Paul Merson claims England forwards won’t pass to Harry Kane at the World Cup

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Paul Merson claimed he can’t see some English forwards passing to Harry Kane during the World Cup because they are ‘dribblers’. These include Manchester City’s Phil Foden and Jack Grealish as well as Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka.

The comment came out when Lee Hendrie picked his starting XI for England’s World Cup opener against Iran. Grealish, Foden, and Saka were all placed behind the Spurs Striker.

Harry Kane has been one of the best strikers in the world for the last few years. He has 12 goals in the Premier League already and will be looking to get a second Golden Boot at the World Cup.

How team selection would influence Harry Kane and his scoring

In Tottenham, Harry Kane tends to drop deeper into the midfield. This allows him to dictate play and spray around passes to teammates, turning him into a key creator of attacks. In the England team, the presence of better creative players such as Saka or Foden means such a style is ineffective causing Kane to become much more of a direct No. 9.

While this is the idea behind former Aston Villa midfielder Lee Hendrie suggesting a forward lineup involving Kane, Saka, Foden, and Grealish, Merson disagreed. The ex-Arsenal man said:

“We have three dribbles there, so Kane will be coming short to get the ball because he’s not going to get past it. I just can’t see them three giving him the ball. They are all dribbles. Maddison and Mount are the only ones who play on the half-turn and then bang, they play it. That’s what Kane needs. Maddison has done it with Vardy a lot. I have watched Mount a lot. He doesn’t mess about.”

England boss Gareth Southgate is infamous for his defense-oriented tactics and the preference for a back-3. However, when he faced off against Iran, he abandoned these ideas for a more balanced setup with a 4-3-3.

Neither Foden nor Grealish made it into the team, with Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount preferred over them at left wing and attacking midfield respectively. Bukayo Saka did make the team however and scored a brace in a 6-2 domination of the Iranians. Teenage sensation Jude Bellingham,

The clear highlight of the match, however, was the Iranian team’s refusal to sing the national anthem, in protest of the events going on in the country.

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