England manager Gareth Southgate has opened up on the contrasting woes of his two star forwards ahead of the start of the World Cup next week.
Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling have long been the Three Lions’ most prolific attacking players under Southgate, but will head to Qatar a little out of sorts for different reasons.
Kane has started all 21 games possible for club and country this season with Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte admitting he’s fatigued, while Sterling has scored five goals in 19 games since moving to Chelsea in the summer.
Southgate was asked about their conditions ahead of the tournament at a press conference following the announcement of his 26-player squad.
First discussing Sterling, Southgate said: “The first thing is always to sit and talk to players and look them in the eye and find out what is going on. Raheem has had a change of club and his scoring at the start was very good.
“He has had three managers in a short space of time if you go back to [Manchester] City. There is a lot to take on for a player when they move club.
“Of course, we expect instant transfer of performance on the pitch, but there can be many reasons [why that is not the case]. We have a few players in that sort of situation and I have to work out how they look on the training pitch and how they are within themselves.”
Southgate was then asked about Conte’s decision to surprisingly start Kane against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.
“I wasn’t surprised because Tottenham have lost attacking players,” he added. “I empathise with the club managers at this time. We would like it to be slightly different, but if I am Antonio I have to win football matches for Tottenham, and the same with every other manager.
“We have 26 unique cases in terms of how we physically have to look after them. We haven’t got time to get that wrong. We will have some like Jude [Bellingham] and like Harry who have played almost every midweek and others who will need a bit more.
“When we are putting training sessions together we are not just training the team, we are looking at all those physical aspects as well and what each individual needs. It’s no different to a normal camp, but on the schedule we are on the back of, it’s even more important.”