Harry Kane has been ruled out of England’s friendlies against Germany and Brazil following a scan on an injury that leaves a gaping hole in Gareth Southgate’s plans for the international break.
Kane was hurt in Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-0 defeat of Crystal Palace on Sunday and stayed in London for treatment while the other England players reported for duty at St George’s Park, starting their preparations for the game against Germany on Friday followed by Brazil’s visit to Wembley the following Tuesday.
Kane’s Tottenham team-mate Harry Winks is also out of the games having twisted his ankle during the same match, providing a further blow to Southgate’s hopes of filling his team with a nucleus of Spurs players. Southgate has already lost Dele Alli to injury and England’s medical staff spent large parts of the day liaising with their counterparts at the London club.
Following the withdrawal of Kane and Winks, West Bromwich Albion’s Jake Livermore was called up to the squad on Monday.
England have their first training session on Tuesday and Southgate, who has added the fit-again Michael Keane to his squad as an additional centre-half, will be desperately disappointed if either Kane or Winks, and possibly both, are forced to miss out.
The next two games will be England’s last fixtures until they face Holland and Italy in two more friendlies in March and Kane’s absence is a considerable setback, with seven goals in his last six England appearances. Kane recently missed his club’s game at Manchester United because of a hamstring problem but his latest issue is unrelated, having taken a kick at the weekend.
It leave the England manager with a decision to make about whether he recalls Daniel Sturridge only a few days after going public to say the Liverpool striker could not expect to be involved when he was being used only sparingly for his club. “I don’t remember the last time Daniel had 90 minutes,” Southgate said.
Jermain Defoe is another option or Southgate would be left with only three strikers – Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford and the uncapped Tammy Abraham – for games against the two highest-ranking teams in the Fifa world rankings.
Abraham has been called up for the first time and the Swansea City striker, on loan from Chelsea, has made it clear that he had devoted himself to playing for England full-time, despite Nigeria trying to tempt him to switch nationalities
The 20-year-old, who has scored four goals in 10 appearances for Swansea this season, would still be eligible for Nigeria if he represented England in a friendly match and his father is a close friend of Amaju Pinnick, the president of the Nigerian Football Federation. Pinnick claimed recently he was hopeful Abraham would switch allegiances and that he was wanted to start the process of applying to Fifa to transfer his registration.
However, the London-born Abraham insisted he did not want to go down the same route that saw Wilfried Zaha declare himself as an Ivory Coast player despite having already won two England caps.
“I see myself as being a long-term England player,” Abraham said. “That is where my main focus is and I am 100% focused here to try to get into that team. My main focus is here. I was pretty set on England really and playing in the Premier League meant it would be nice to play in the England team as well. It was flattering [Nigerian interest], but for me my main focus was here.”