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Bundesliga

England’s Harry Kane ready to peak in World Cup knockouts



England captain Harry Kane said he is ready to peak in the World Cup knockout stages after tailoring his conditioning to reach optimum match fitness.

The 29-year-old is yet to score in the tournament but has three assists to his name as Gareth Southgate’s side topped Group B to set up Sunday’s round of 16 clash against Senegal at Al Bayt Stadium.

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Kane won the Golden Boot at the 2018 tournament but five of his six goals came in the group stage before England were beaten by Croatia in the semifinals.

Last summer, England reached the Euro 2020 final as Kane scored in every knockout round after a goalless group phase apart from the Wembley showpiece, which Italy won in a penalty shootout.

Asked if he was aiming to manage his performances in a similar fashion once again, Kane said: “It probably goes back to 2018. In the World Cup, I felt like, just from a physical and maybe mental side of things, we started the tournament great, I started the tournament with loads of goals, used a lot of energy and as the tournament went on, I felt like my performances dipped in the latter stages.

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“I was conscious before the Euros of trying to make it the other way. Of course I still wanted to start well but I was trying to make sure that physically and mentally I was in the best place for the knockout stages. I carried it into this tournament.

“I would love to be sitting here with two or three goals now for sure but I think the group stage has gone well. Minutes-wise, it has not been too tough.

“The games haven’t been really physical when you look at the numbers when we break it down so going into the knockout stage I feel really good. Fit and sharp, coming off the back of the Premier League schedule, I feel as match-fit as I’m ever going to feel.

“Only time will tell. Hopefully I can do well tomorrow and come into the best form in these knockout games.

“Form-wise I feel like I have been playing well, goals are what I’m going to be judged on most but as always I’m a calm individual and always try to focus on the team and do my best for the team.

“I will continue to try and do that, if the goals come, great, it means it will give us a better chance of winning the game.

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“As a striker I want to be scoring goals for sure. It will be a tough game but tomorrow hopefully I can get off the mark.”

Kane’s methodology is evidence of the tournament savviness Southgate has aimed to introduce to England since taking charge in 2016.

“We’ve learned a lot from having played seven matches in the last two tournaments and the need to firstly keep the squad involved emotionally as well as physically,” Southgate said.

“We’ve had individual situations across all of those tournaments where we’ve tried to manage people’s minutes, manage some players back from injury and get them onto the field and ready to be match fit.

“To this point, we’re really pleased with that progress. That means we’ve got everybody available for tomorrow but I suppose that’s one of the areas we’ve learned and you don’t necessarily know that unless you go right to the distance. It is one area we don’t need to find out more about but it is only relevant for us if we win tomorrow and we progress.”

Meanwhile, Senegal boss Aliou Cisse has been unable to take training for two days and did not appear for his pre-match media duties on Saturday.

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Assistant manager Regis Bogaert, standing in for Cisse, said: “He had a temperature so we had to be careful. He let us take charge of training yesterday, obviously with his instructions that we got across to the players, and hopefully tomorrow he will be able to come and be on the bench with the players. We are sure at 10pm tomorrow he will be there with the team, that’s for sure.”



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