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Harry Kane’s pleas with Gareth Southgate ‘not to drop him for Wales game’

England's Harry Kane applauds the fans after England's Group B match against the USA. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire© PA

Matt LawTelegraph.co.uk

Harry Kane does not want to be rested for England’s final World Cup Group B game against Wales tomorrow as he attempts to break Wayne Rooney’s goalscoring record.

While manager Gareth Southgate is expected to freshen up his team, he is not planning wholesale changes and Kane wants to start and break his goalscoring duck at this tournament.

Kane is two goals short of Rooney’s England tally of 53, and would love to surpass that in Qatar.

The 29-year-old also has the chance to become the first player to win the Golden Boot at two successive World Cups, although that task has been made harder by his failure to score against Iran and the United States, while Kylian Mbappe has three goals for France.

Southgate admitted that Kane had felt pain in his right foot against the USA on Friday after having been sent for a scan on an injury suffered against Iran, but, fitness permitting, the Tottenham Hotspur forward does not feel in need of a rest.

Former England striker Alan Shearer has led the calls for Kane to be rested against Wales, even though it is not yet guaranteed that Southgate’s team will win Group B or even progress. Southgate faced similar calls to rest Kane after the first two games – in which he did not score – in the European Championship last year, but he started the third match against Czech Republic and finished the tournament with four goals.

Ahead of the USA game, Southgate agreed with the assessment of Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte that Kane was in the best shape of his career, and yesterday Manchester United star Marcus Rashford said of Kane: “Harry’s all right. He’s happy. But for any forward, you want to be scoring goals. I’m sure if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’ll score.”

While Kane is desperate to start again, Southgate is expected to change his team for the first time at this World Cup against Wales to bring in some fresh legs.

Phil Foden was left on the bench for the draw with the US and Southgate is now under pressure to start the Manchester City midfielder.

He could rest Bukayo Saka, who faded badly in the second half of England’s second game before being substituted, after scoring two in the victory over Iran.

Raheem Sterling was also substituted and Jack Grealish has been pushing for his first World Cup start after scoring as a substitute against Iran and winning free-kicks in dangerous areas against the Americans.

​Vice-captain Jordan Henderson brought control to the midfield against the US and the 32-year-old’s experience could be key in a game against Wales that has been billed in some quarters as a “battle of Britain”.

​Southgate has already said that teenager Jude Bellingham will not play every minute of every game at the World Cup.

​Rashford is still waiting for his first start of the tournament, having scored as a substitute against Iran and come off the bench against the US. “We are on the biggest stage in the world and it’s an opportunity for all of us to go and take,” said Rashford. “I’ve been on the bench and you’re waiting for your opportunity. But it’s not just going to come, you have to work for it.

​“I feel like, as a group, and as an individual, we’ve been training well. The togetherness is there. We are not disjointed as a collective. In tournament football, that is needed because it’s going to be the squad that wins the tournament.

​“For me, there is a huge sense of togetherness and belief that we can go a long way. I believe that if we stick to what we know, if we stick to what we’ve done so often with Gareth, then we can have a really good time here.”

​The goal against Iran was Rashford’s first for England since his penalty shoot-out miss in the Euros final against Italy and the 25-year-old is hoping for a shot at redemption here.

​Asked if the penalty miss still played on his mind and whether it would put him off taking another in Qatar, Rashford replied: “No, not at all. I’ve missed a penalty before. You never want to miss a penalty. I feel like it’s a great opportunity for forwards, especially, to score goals and, obviously, they are big moments and as an individual I’ve always been comfortable and I enjoy being in big moments.

​“So, for me, I’m hoping that we get to take another penalty in the tournament and I’m looking forward to it.”

​Wales, meanwhile, are hoping for improved performances from Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey. Midfielder Joe Allen said: “They are big-game players and always have been and hopefully, if any criticism has come their way, then they will be able to answer a few of those critics with a top performance.

​“We’re fully motivated, fully incentivised into throwing absolutely everything into getting the win. Then, who knows? Hopefully, there’s a chance we can still get out of this group.”

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