Kane’s transfer saga is centre stage – and England are paying price

Two games into a major tournament and Harry Kane is bigger news off the pitch than he is on it.

That is the brutal truth. And that was always going to be the danger when the England captain allowed it to be known he wanted to move clubs this summer.

Gareth Southgate said he had no worries about a background transfer saga being a distraction for Kane.

And the England coach said, rather unconvincingly, that he had every faith in Kane’s ability to ‘compartmentalise’ matters.

Wonder if he still thinks the same after feeling compelled, for the second game in succession, to withdraw his skipper before the end.

Indeed, to hook him with a fair chunk of this intriguing, if not high-calibre, event still to play out.

England captain Harry Kane is hooked against Scotland

Is Harry Kane distracted by the uncertainty surrounding his Spurs future? Comment below

The chances of his club predicament being connected to his two mediocre displays at Euro 2020 are probably very, very slim, if not non-existent.

Let’s face it, he is not thinking about house prices in leafy South Cheshire or Cobham when he walks out onto that pitch.

But it is certainly an unhappy coincidence that the stories of Kane’s desire to leave Spurs have been followed by this pair of pretty poor individual performances.

Overall, England were laboured and Kane led by unfortunate example.

Whether dropping deep or staying high, the Scottish defence had the measure of him.

There were mitigating factors, the strongest one being that Steve Clarke’s Scotland were excellent. First class.

Scott McTominay was immense and set the tone for his team-mates. Billy Gilmour was excellent. The Scots deserved their point, although there were a few narrow escapes.

Alas, none of them were from Kane, whose turning circle seemed to get bigger every time he tried to face up to a blue-shirted wall.

Another genuine excuse for Kane to use was that the service was poor.

Harry Kane has struggled in his first two games for England in Euro 2020
Harry Kane has struggled in his first two games for England in Euro 2020

You can give him that.

The combination with Phil Foden – who did well individually in some phases of the game – simply does not work, simply because there is no combination.

Kane appears to have some understanding with Raheem Sterling but not with Manchester City’s mercurial, bleached talent.

Jack Grealish, who lifted things a little in his half-hour cameo, is surely a better bet to get more out of Kane but the rumour from the training camp is that the Aston Villa man is still short of full fitness.

But Grealish might be worth risking against the Czech Republic or perhaps Southgate will revert to a Rashford/Kane/Sterling trio that has served him well in the past.

Because while Southgate has shown himself to be unafraid of making big calls, you can probably bet your house on him NOT dropping his captain.

Putting Kieran Trippier in at left-back for the Croatia match was a slightly controversial call but hardly a jaw-dropper.

Replacing Trippier and Kyle Walker with Luke Shaw and Reece James was an interesting shout but not one to ruffle many feathers.

But if Southgate was to leave Kane out, that would be a seismic shout.

Harry Kane in action against Grant Hanley
Harry Kane in action against Grant Hanley

Three times a winner of the Premier League’s Golden Boot, winner of the same award at World Cup 2018, top of the Premier League assist charts last season. Kane is England’s go-to player, a talisman, a leader by example.

But in this sort of form, he is nothing of the sort and now, he is news for two reasons.

One, he wants to get away from Tottenham and, two, although England are only two games in, he is having a forgettable Euro 2020.

That can change but can Southgate – who has alternatives in Marcus Rashford or even Dominic Calvert-Lewin – really afford to give a player who looks so out of sorts more chances?

The answer should, but won’t be, no.

At least Kane will be in a comfort zone over the next few days as England base themselves at Spurs training ground.

Perhaps those familiar surroundings will spark a return to familiar form.

Southgate has to hope so … because this is a very unfamiliar Harry Kane

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