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World Cup: England - Is it time to rest Harry Kane?

Individual player data suggests under-performing England skipper Harry Kane is in need of a rest against Wales.

Harry Kane is 20/21 to break his Qatar World Cup duck against Wales on Tuesday evening – but the big question on everybody’s lips is whether the England skipper should even make the starting line-up?

There is no doubt that the Tottenham Hotspur man will want to spearhead the side for the third and final game of the group stages as he closes in on Wayne Rooney’s all-time record international tally. However, individual player data suggests he is a man in need of a rest.

It maybe shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise either, with Antonio Conte warning that fatigue could hinder Kane and other Spurs players partaking in the tournament, given the nature of such a condensed domestic and continental schedule in the build-up to the tournament.

The striker, who claimed the Golden Boot in Russia four years ago, did register two assists (xA 0.8) in the Three Lions’ 6-2 demolition of Iran on matchday one, but it’s goals he craves, and he will be disappointed not to have been able to add to his tally of 51 thus far.

The 29-year-old, who, despite starting each of his country’s two matches to date, has attempted just TWO efforts at goal in the Middle East this winter.

He surprisingly failed to pull the trigger in the Group B opener with Iran, and whilst he did have a couple of opportunities to notch in the drab goalless draw with the USA, he looked nowhere near his prolific best.

In fact, Kane boasts an xG of just 0.18, which is lower than SIX of his England teammates, including defender Harry Maguire (xG 0.20) and Marcus Rashford (xG 0.54), who has played just 34 minutes of football at the tournament.

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He will undoubtedly point to a lack of supply as the reason behind that alarming statistic, but the data is suggesting that other key aspects of his game are falling well below-par too.

Kane has had 165 minutes of action to date, and despite being deployed as the lone frontman, he has actually taken more touches of the ball in the midfield third of the pitch (24) than in the attacking third (23), whilst he has surprisingly lost more aerial duels (five) than he has won (three).

He is yet to have been flagged offside either, further suggesting that for whatever reason, he hasn’t been able to occupy the positions on the field that enable him to flourish.

Kane has always been a player willing to drop deep when needed, but with such a plethora of talent at the disposal of Gareth Southgate, is there really a need for the frontman to be sacrificing his undoubted prowess at the top end of the pitch to help instigate attacks from deeper positions?

Even when he has moved into deeper areas of the field, the same crisp passing that we associate with the forward hasn’t been evident – again an opinion that is backed up by the statistics, which show he has the lowest pass completion rate of any English player at the World Cup (66.6 percent).

There is no doubt that Southgate would have likely rested his lynchpin had England prevailed, and all but rubber-stamped top spot in the group, with victory against the United States.

But with first spot, and indeed qualification, not yet secured, there is every chance the frontman will be called upon to lead the line in Tuesday’s hotly-anticipated encounter with Wales – whether England fans agree with the decision or not.

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