Alan Shearer is not the only former England star urging Gareth Southgate to hand Callum Wilson a start against Wales on Tuesday. Wayne Rooney has made a similar case that Harry Kane should be rested with Wilson an more than competent replacement.
The Chronicle has published the following from Rooney, who currently manages DC United in the MLS:
“The other big change I would make for the Wales match would be to rest Harry Kane.
“Against the USA, he looked like he may have been suffering the effects of a heavy knock he took in the Iran game. It was from a tackle in the second half and in that match I felt that Gareth should have considered taking him off at half-time.
“England were leading 3-0, the game was already won and Harry is our most important player. When there are opportunities to protect him and help him stay fit, I believe Gareth should take them — and that is why I would keep Harry on the bench against Wales.
“He is an incredible competitor and will always want to play but sometimes managers need to take things out of a player’s hands. Since it is now almost impossible for England not to qualify for the round of 16, Gareth has a chance to manage Harry’s workload.
“Callum Wilson, as we saw when he came on against Iran, is more than capable of deputizing and the priority has to be the knockout stage. Harry needs to be fresh for that. In previous tournaments he has looked a bit tired towards the end and a rest on Tuesday could make a big difference.”
While England’s levels dropped against the US, they remain in an excellent position to advance to the knockout stages. Their 6-2 throttling of Iran in their opening match has given the England boss some breathing room.
England need just to draw against Wales, or avoid a thrashing, on Tuesday to advance. While a defeat doesn’t confirm elimination, that would be a disastrous result even if they squeak through.
Saving Kane for the knockout rounds makes sense. He struggled on Friday in the scoreless draw against the States. Lingering issues with his ankle could be an explanation for that though the entire team was off their game.
It remains to be seen if Southgate makes the brave decision to rest Kane. If he does, Wilson is a safe pair of hands to help pick up the result necessary to ensure a place in the knockout rounds.