Gareth Southgate hits back at Wayne Rooney & Alan Shearer advice on Harry Kane
Gareth Southgate has dismissed suggestions from Wayne Rooney and Alan Shearer that he should rest Harry Kane against Wales.
England head into their final group stage match with a high chance of finishing top of their group. They'll do so if they win and even if they lose should Iran and USA draw with one another, while they would need to lose by four goals to risk elimination altogether.
Given Kane's fitness issues off the back of starting every single game for club and country this season, legendary strikers Rooney and Shearer have urged Southgate to consider giving the England captain a rest ahead of the knockout stages.
Southgate doesn't plan to do so though, saying he intends to play his strongest possible team because qualification isn't yet guaranteed.
"We are not in a scenario that we had when we played Belgium in Russia and we were qualified. It was a case of first or second. We didn’t really know what would be beneficial when we picked the team," he said in a press conference ahead of the Wales match.
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"And then we had two days of why are we changing the team even though we had qualified. I’ve sort of worked out how all of this works. If we change it, we shouldn’t have. If we win, it was justified. If we don’t, it wasn’t.
"We just have to make best decisions with the information we have and prepare the team in the best possible way. We want to play well. We want to win the group, we want to win football matches.
"There has to be a balance of freshness. Without a doubt the two games have taken a lot out of the players. But also stability. If you make lots of changes you can lose a bit of rhythm as well."