90min
England

How do England get the best out of Harry Kane?

Max Cooper
Another tough evening for Kane
Another tough evening for Kane / Visionhaus/Getty Images
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Only England could boast a striker with the clinical nature, the ruthless finishing capacity and overall brilliant play of Harry Kane, and still not understand how to use him correctly while in his very prime.

Two games into Euro 2020, and the Three Lions have mustered one goal, and only a couple more shots on target. What's more worrying than the statistics is the qualitative data on display, however.

Kane is not playing well. In fact, he's playing badly - something we have rarely been able to accuse the England captain of doing. And those poor performances have led to two consequences.

The first, is that manager Gareth Southgate has resorted to substituting his leader and talisman in both matches, something previously believed to be unthinkable. Secondly, it's led to conversations surrounding how to get the best out of Kane, a man with 23 league goals and 14 assists to his name last year.

His new-found tendency to drop into space and perform the role of a deep-lying forward means we are left searching for the English Son Heung-min, simultaneously banishing wildcard Jack Grealish and tricky winger Jadon Sancho to the bench.

Harry Kane
Kane isn't getting the service he requires / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

But it's fair to say, whatever Southgate is trying, is not working.

So, which wide players are the right men to accompany Kane, and who will help bring him back to his devastating form of old? Here, 90min picks out the six best partnerships of wide players to support the England captain.

*Editors note - the extremely talented Bukayo Saka has been left out of this hypothetical exercise, purely based on the fact that he's unlikely to break into England's side ahead of any of these many, many possibilities. Still, a great player and one for the future.


6. Phil Foden & Raheem Sterling

Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling
The current alternatives / Andy Rain - Pool/Getty Images

Strengths: Southgate's current lineup. Therefore, we're putting this bottom of the list. Raheem Sterling's pace in behind is the key to his selection, and his love of chasing a ball over the top is one of the main causes of England's success in recent years. His displays in qualifying proved he does boast a great relationship with Kane, too. Foden is there for his creativity and insane technical ability.

Weaknesses: It's not working. Sterling is out of form, and other than his admittedly vital goal in the win over Croatia, he has not looked at the races. Foden was unlucky to be substituted by Southgate in the 0-0 draw with Scotland, but he didn't show enough desire to find Kane in the box to merit his place on the pitch.


5. Marcus Rashford & Raheem Sterling

Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling
A famous night for the trio / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Strengths: This one has worked in the past, and you can't argue with history. We saw the best of Kane and this front three working in tandem in England's 3-2 victory over Spain in 2018, with Rashford and Sterling both landing on the scoresheet, and the centre forward involved in all three goals.

Weaknesses: Three years have passed since that glorious evening, and the two players in question are bang out of form. Sterling and Kane's chemistry has evaporated, and Rashford's injury-hit season has taken its toll. No thanks.


4. Jack Grealish & Raheem Sterling

Jack Grealish, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling, Tyrone Mings
A decent alternative / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Strengths: As a duo, they boast a combination of pace, insane trickery and a blend of direct running and the ability to change tempo in the final third. They can interchange on either flank, too. Fluid.

Weaknesses: Other than Sterling's poor form, there may be a lack of supply into the box for Kane. Grealish can cross, but he also likes holding onto the ball and instead working an angle in tight spaces. It could be a frustrating afternoon for Harry.


3. Phil Foden & Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden
... don't ask / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Strengths: Very good at throwing chickens. There's so much trickery between them, they can switch to either flank when needed and can both dribble and pick out a delivery. They know where the goal is, too. A dream for Kane, you'd imagine.

Weaknesses: Both players are quick, let's not exaggerate, but neither are Rashford or Sterling quick, and Kane may be reluctant to play his trademark passes through the defence if he feels there's no one to chase them. Not utilising his vision would be a mistake.


2. Jack Grealish & Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish
A frightening prospect / Pool/Getty Images

Strengths: What's not to love about this? Both players are comfortable with either foot, they love dribbling and attempting to beat their marker. You can just see them dancing to the byline and cutting the ball back to Kane - as long as he's in the box.

Weaknesses: While dribbling is their strength, it could also prove England's weakness. Grealish will keep hold of the ball all day long, and Sancho is happy picking it up and running at backlines without fear. They're risk takers, and even if they make things happen, possession could get overturned on both flanks.


1. Phil Foden & Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish, Phil Foden
The partnership everyone wants to see / Andy Rain - Pool/Getty Images

Strengths: If you ran a Twitter poll on the preferred wingers, this would be the winner. Both Grealish and Foden demand the ball, can create an opening from nothing, and although their turn of pace is not Sterling-esque, it's still enough to frighten defenders. It's tricky, it's penetrating, it's beautiful.

Weaknesses: Their desire to drift and float around that final third could see the forward line lose its structure, and Kane could become more isolated than he is now. Other than that though, it's a tantalising prospect.

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