England assess injury damage ahead of Sweden quarter-final
Harry Kane has declared himself fit while Jamie Vardy is a doubt for Saturday’s match
England’s Harry Kane has declared himself fit for their 2018 World Cup quarter-final clash with Sweden in Samara. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire
Gareth Southgate’s fears over the fitness of Harry Kane have been allayed in the aftermath of his team’s bruising knockout success over Colombia and the England captain is set to lead the side into Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden.
Kane, the tournament’s leading scorer with six goals from three appearances, had experienced discomfort in his calf after the game. But he has since declared himself fit after undergoing a massage to relieve cramp.
There are more serious concerns over Jamie Vardy, however. The Leicester forward required a sugar injection in his groin immediately after the match at the Spartak Stadium.
The substitute, who came off the bench towards the end of normal time, had felt the twinge five minutes into extra time but still lasted to the final whistle; however, Southgate resisted the temptation to ask the 32-year-old to take a penalty while carrying the injury. The manager has made clear that all those taking spot-kicks must be fully fitand comfortable to strike the ball cleanly. Vardy, who scored six penalties at club level last season, relinquished his position among the five nominated pre-match for the shootout.
Ashley Young suffered knocks to his ankle and thigh in the fractious contest with Colombia, though the Manchester United wing-back has been encouraged that the muscular problem has not stiffened up since returning to Repino.
Dele Alli is understood to be fit after his recent thigh injury, reporting no issues after the game, while Kyle Walker has shaken off the cramp that affected him in extra time and attended a team meeting called by Southgate in the gym at the team’s base at lunchtime on Wednesday.
Only eight players, including the goalkeepers Jack Butland and Nick Pope, and Marcus Rashford of those who had featured against Colombia, later trained in the pouring rain at Zelenogorsk after the team returned to their hotel at 6.30am following the game in Moscow.
They enjoyed a light session, with Southgate and the attacking coach Allan Russell making up the numbers. Options will be bolstered by the return of Fabian Delph after the Manchester City midfielder flew back to Russia having been at his wife’s side at the birth of their daughter on Wednesday morning.
“Watching my brothers come through a tough game both mentally and physically, I kicked every ball and felt every bit of emotion with the players, staff and fans,” posted Delph on social media, alongside a photograph of him on a private jet bound for St Petersburg.
“At 07:52, me, my wife and two beautiful daughters welcomed their baby sister into the world. I can’t put into words the happiness and gratitude I’m feeling... Back to Russia now.” – Guardian service