Remember that article I posted yesterday that suggested that Harry Kane was very likely to start in the World Cup Group G final group stage match against Belgium? Well, forget all that. According to the Telegraph, Jamie Vardy will make his first World Cup start ahead of Kane, who will be on the bench.
This follows a similar move by Belgium manager Roberto Martinez, who yesterday said that Romelu Lukaku, who is one goal behind Kane for the Golden Boot, will also be rested for a “minor foot injury.” Both Belgium and England have already clinched progression out of their group — all that’s left is positioning, and there might even be some gamesmanship in play as one half of the Round of 16 bracket is looking decidedly stronger than the other.
Resting Kane is fine — advisable, even. He’s crucially important to England’s World Cup ambitions, though according to the Telegraph, Southgate apparently things that Vardy’s counterattacking ability might be more beneficial “against better opposition,” whatever that means. But giving Kane a breather won’t hurt his Golden Boot chances — he’s almost certain to end the round still in the lead.
Elsewhere, Kyle Walker will go to the bench as he has a yellow card and Southgate doesn’t want to risk him picking up a second, and a suspension. Eric Dier and Danny Rose will also move into the starting lineup. No mention was made of Dele Alli, but after missing the Panama match it seems unlikely that he wouldn’t make the lineup.
The England-Belgium match kicks off today at 2 pm ET, 7 pm BST.