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Exclusive: Peter Crouch on Harry Kane’s fitness and Callum Wilson’s World Cup role for England at Qatar 2022

Peter Crouch has played down fitness concerns for Harry Kane after pointing out to Warner Bros. Discovery that players are used to a busy schedule around Christmas.

With the World Cup around the corner, Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte admitted Kane was “really, really tired” after a busy domestic schedule.

Nevertheless, Conte still surprisingly started Kane in last week’s EFL Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest, with the England captain subbed off just before the hour-mark.

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Kane – the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner – will be England’s focal point up front at the World Cup, with their expectations relying heavily on the striker hitting his stride in Qatar, but former Spurs forward Crouch, who scored 22 goals in 42 games for England, does not expect fatigue to play a major issue.

“It’s a difficult one, he has to play every single game. Antonio Conte coming out and saying he was tired and then playing him in the Carabao Cup seemed a bit strange,” Crouch told Warner Bros. Discovery.

“It was an opportunity for them to rest him, although Tottenham haven’t won much silverware so that’s potentially a competition they would have liked to have gone far in – obviously, that didn’t work out.

“I always think, going into Christmas time, it’s a period where we’re used to playing so many games, so for a World Cup to be there rather than the end of the season, you would think Harry Kane will be a little bit fresher – having said that, he plays a lot of games.”

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Newcastle striker Callum Wilson will likely be Kane’s back-up at the World Cup, with Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford another option.

Crouch backed Wilson’s call-up ahead of Ivan Toney and Tammy Abraham, and says Newcastle’s No. 9 has the abilities to threaten late on – assuming he replaces Kane in the latter stages of matches.

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“With Wilson, you get strength, power, pace. He’s good in the air and he will unsettle defenders. Coming on maybe late for Harry Kane, or if Kane gets an injury, he’s an adequate replacement,” Crouch added.

“He will cause defenders a lot of trouble. Ivan Toney will feel aggrieved to miss out I think. For the last couple of years he has consistently scored goals, but he’s quite new to the squad, and like I said, Wilson edges that one for me.

“Tammy was unlucky to miss out. Southgate talked about the lack of form recently, but I think Callum Wilson was just ahead of him in fairness.

“Obviously, he will be disappointed to miss out, but I think Callum gets the nod for me.”

James Maddison also returned from the international wilderness to make the England squad for the first time in three years.

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And with an impressive goals and assists record in the Premier League, only bettered among England players by Kane since the start of the 2021-22 season, Crouch has backed the Leicester playmaker to bring something different to Southgate’s 26-man squad.

“James Maddison, for me, has been knocking on the door for a long time. He should have been in a few previous squads,” Crouch said.

“The last year his numbers stack up with anyone: creativity, assists, goals. He brings something a little bit different centrally to England’s squad. Personally, I think he’s got a real good shout of starting.”

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To celebrate the 2022 World Cup, we have launched our new bracket game, where you can give your predictions, challenge friends and create mini-leagues.

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12/11/2022 AT 15:32

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