Tottenham showed in Sunday’s win over Southampton that they can cope without the injured Harry Kane – and England should do the same this week.
England manager Gareth Southgate has named three strikers in his squad for Wednesday’s friendly against Germany and Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania – Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford and Jermain Defoe.
The Lithuania game is the more important one, but it should not make any difference which of them starts it. Whoever plays, we should have enough to beat them.
But I think it tells you where English football is right now that we have got to call up Rashford – a teenager who has hardly played as centre-forward this season – and Defoe – a 34-year-old who has been around for years and has not been in the squad since 2013.
Yes, Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge are both injured too, but it is not exactly a position of strength.
Rashford represents the future – and Defoe deserves his place
England are top of Group F and in a strong position to reach Russia but, as long as they get there, what happens in friendly games and qualifiers does not really matter.
We have reached the finals of major tournaments before after being undefeated in qualifying – for the 2014 World Cup, for example – and been absolutely hopeless once we got there.
England will need a fit and in-form Harry Kane to make an impact on the World Cup next summer but I think they could get there without him, if they had to, even with such a shortage of options.
There are different arguments for Vardy, Rashford or Defoe to lead the attack against Lithuania.
For the vast majority of the season, Vardy has been poor. It’s only in the past five games, since his goal in Sevilla, that he has found any real form. In the past three-and-a-half weeks he has been brilliant.
Rashford is playing more for Manchester United, and in a central role, at the moment because of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s suspension.
I know he didn’t score for United against Middlesbrough but he played well, looked dangerous and had chances, just like he did against Chelsea in the FA Cup last week.
At 19, Rashford represents the future – a player we will look to for the next few years, not just this week.
Defoe isn’t the future – but he has scored goals in a struggling side for Sunderland this season, with virtually every chance he has had.
He deserves to be in the squad on current form and I think Southgate was right to leave Theo Walcott out too.
Walcott has scored 15 goals in all competitions this season, only the second time since he has managed that since he joined Arsenal in 2006, and is on course to beat his best total of 21 goals in 2012-13.
Even if this turns out to be his best season ever, I am still not convinced by Walcott as a centre-forward. He still needs to do more, and I would not say he is the answer for England.
Spurs can keep winning without Kane
Without Kane, Tottenham can turn to either Vincent Janssen or Son Heung-min to lead their attack. I don’t think Janssen is good enough, and they look a better team with Son leading the line.
Son gives them great energy and makes runs in behind defences. As we saw against Southampton, that can and will create chances for the likes of Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has called on Son and Janssen to step up while Kane is out but Alli and Eriksen did that against Saints, and both found the net.
Eriksen was excellent again, and is having a really good season. In the first half in particular on Sunday, I thought he was superb.
Alli has now scored in four straight games and you can tell how hungry he is for goals. Once the referee had awarded Spurs a penalty against Southampton, I saw him go chasing after the ball.
He was the only guy who wanted it, and he tucked it away very confidently.
Their goals meant Tottenham already have one win in the bag without Kane this weekend, and I don’t see his absence being a huge issue for them over the next few weeks either.
They will need him in their FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea on 22 April but, looking at their next four Premier League games – against Burnley (a), Swansea (a), Watford (h) and Bournemouth (h) – they should be able to win those without him too.
Hopefully the reports that Kane’s ankle injury is not as bad as first feared are true, and he will be back in action in another month or so rather than missing any more of the season.
If that is true, it won’t be an issue for them at all. The title looks beyond Tottenham now, but I still fancy them to finish inside the top four.
Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
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