Gareth Southgate responds to Jamie Carragher criticism of star man Harry Kane

Harry Kane of England
Harry Kane of England looks on as Predrag Rajkovic of Serbia saves his shot as he pushes it onto the crossbar during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Serbia and England at Arena AufSchalke on June 16, 2024 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. 

England boss Gareth Southgate says he was pleased with Harry Kane's performance against Serbia, despite the forward only touching the ball twice in the first half.

The Three Lions dominated possession and took a well-deserved lead through a Jude Bellingham header.

But Kane struggled to make his mark and regularly dropped deep looking for the ball.

Former England ace Jamie Carragher called out the Bayern Munich striker for failing to have an impact on the match, despite his involvement improving in the second half.

"For a player of his class, that is deeply worrying," wrote Carragher in his Telegraph column. "By full-time that had risen to 24, showing that he was more involved in the second half, ironic given that England were less dominant in possession.

"There is a tactical curiosity that when England played well, Kane was not involved at all. When they didn’t, he nearly scored and had more possession."

Southgate has jumped to the defence of his captain, insisting the 30-year-old played well.

"I thought in the second-half he did an incredible job holding the ball up," Southgate said. "The number of fouls that he won, he got his body across (defenders) well.

"There isn't space in that front line for everybody to be on the ball in every moment.

"In the first-half Bukayo (Saka) was obviously prominent. Jude (Bellingham) was prominent.

"So Harry didn't get as much of the ball, but in the second-half his performance was absolutely crucial to us getting the win."

He added: "Look, I think the team in the second-half didn't have the same control.

"I thought, physically, we had players that needed the game. We've had a lot of players that hadn’t played 90 minutes for a long time.

"We expended a lot of energy in that first-half. I knew that we would dip.

"We'll have to see (about selection). There's obviously a lot of new players, young players in the squad.

"The team that started against Serbia was a very experienced team in terms of international and club football, bar Marc (Guehi), who had a brilliant game.

"So we're just going to have to assess as we go from game to game.

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