England keeper Pickford plays down Kane injury fears
Jordan Pickford revealed on Wednesday that Harry Kane is “fine”, easing fears the England captain could miss Friday’s World Cup clash with the United States with an ankle injury.
Kane went for a scan on Wednesday after he hurt his right ankle early in the second half of England’s 6-2 win over Iran in their Group B opener on Monday.
The 29-year-old played on until the 75th minute but left the Khalifa International Stadium with a strapping on his ankle, leading England to send him for the scan to check that he had not suffered any significant damage.
Tottenham striker Kane has been plagued with ankle problems throughout his career and his latest issue had sparked concern he could be set for another spell on the sidelines.
While England did not give an official fitness update following Kane’s medical check, goalkeeper Pickford provided some insight into his team-mate’s status when he said he featured in training on Wednesday.
“I think he’s good, probably a bit sore but he’s fine. He’s out on the grass today,” Pickford told reporters at England’s training base in Doha.
“Obviously Harry is an unbelievable player. He sets the example in the squad, he is leader, the captain. He is very unselfish and we all look up to him.
“Everyone’s training well and working hard. When Harry came off against Iran, Callum (Wilson) came on and got the assist.”
Kane, who won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup, is essential to England’s hopes of lifting their first major title since the 1966 World Cup.
Although Kane did not score in the rout of Iran, he provided assists for Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka.
Kane has worked with a private physiotherapist in recent months to make his body more resilient to the ankle problems that have left him out of action five times with ligament damage in his career.
– ‘Taken out of our hands’ –
Kane was also the centre of attention before the Iran game after the Football Association were forced to tell the skipper not to wear a ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband to support equality.
FIFA reportedly said players who wore the armband would face being booked and, with the row also involving several other European teams still rumbling on, Pickford said the England squad had wanted Kane to wear it before the decision was taken out of their hands.
“As a squad we all had conversations, we all wanted Harry to wear it, but the decision got taken out of our hands. It went higher up than that,” Pickford said.
“If Harry got a yellow card and missed the next game it wouldn’t be ideal for us.”
England boss Gareth Southgate said after the Iran game that he was concerned his team were used as an example of shirt-pulling offences in an instructional video for referees before the tournament.
England conceded a penalty against Iran after a tug from John Stones, while Harry Maguire was denied a spot-kick despite being rugby tackled to the turf.
Pickford backed Southgate’s call for consistency, saying: “Hopefully we get the fair side of it. It’s never going to be perfect.
“We are never going to be happy with VAR all the time. Hopefully, we get the decisions when we need them.”