Harry Kane is struggling at Euro 2024; should England's captain be benched?

Harry Kane is struggling at Euro 2024; should England's captain be benched?

Updated Jul. 9, 2024 9:50 a.m. ET

DORTMUND, Germany – Harry Kane believes the tough times suffered by himself and the England team during Euro 2024 has galvanized the squad ahead of its semifinal with the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Kane, England's record international goalscorer and proud captain, has been the topic of widespread debate following the team's quarterfinal victory over Switzerland, with some sections of the media suggesting he should be replaced after struggling for form throughout the tournament.

Never before in Kane's England career has there been such doubts raised about his starting place, but as the group has continued to lack fluidity on the field and with him touching the ball just 27 times in the quarterfinal, a multitude of tactical alternatives have gained public momentum.


However, the theories of what England might do without Kane have gained no traction within the camp, as several players and head coach Gareth Southgate spoke in glowing terms of his positive attributes, even when things are not clicking like normal.

"Anyone who is facing England would like to see Harry Kane not playing," teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold told reporters. "You just know he is a threat. Anything in and around the box, you need to be on red alert. 

"He can finish it from every angle. I always say he is the best finisher I've seen or played with. He can drop down and build play up and his hold-up play is incredible too."

Kane has scored twice at Euro 2024, clipping the ball home from close range against Denmark in the group stage and scoring the winning header against Slovakia following Jude Bellingham's stunning overhead kick to equalize.

Harry Kane scores in extra time as England takes a 2-1 lead over Slovakia

But he has not operated with his usual sense of permanent danger, perhaps still suffering from the effects of a back injury that hindered the end of his club season with Bayern Munich.

Kane knows England's overall play hasn't looked pretty, but is delighted with its mentality. Similarly, the Netherlands has overcome some initial troubles, beating Romania and coming from behind against Turkey to reach the semis despite finishing third in its group, behind Austria and France.

"We look at all the champions over the years in these big tournaments," Kane said. "(Resiliency) is what they have to show and that's what we have in abundance. We have got a real togetherness and a real belief we can do something special. It will be no different on Wednesday.

"Tournaments are tough. These games are tough. You have to find a way to get through them. The longer we go in the competition in the manner that we're doing, it just gives us more and more belief that we're finding ways to win."

England vs. Switzerland Highlights

Kane said he was "fine" physically, having come off midway through extra-time in the last game after crashing into some pitch-side water bottles while running for a loose ball. He sustained some cramping and was replaced by Ivan Toney, who scored in the penalty shootout as England advanced.

"When Harry's on the pitch he makes other players feel positive," defender Luke Shaw added. "I think we all feel very positive when he's on the pitch, because he's our leading scorer. At any time he can score a goal and make that difference. He's a very important player, he's our captain.

"He's a world-class player. We see it day in, day out, in training. We know the quality he has and what he brings to the team."

It seems that Southgate will keep Kane in the lineup, having Toney in reserve as backup. 

"He's leading the team incredibly well," Southgate said. "He is such a positive influence around the camp guiding young players through everything that the squad have had to deal with in the early stages of the tournaments."

Bukayo Saka's effectiveness on the right makes the retention of the back-three defensive formation probable, though the return to fitness of Shaw means he could be an option to switch in for Kieran Trippier. Marc Guehi, back from suspension, should replace Ezri Konsa.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.


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