Gareth Southgate’s loyalty to Harry Kane as his predominant centre forward was illustrated by how the 28-year-old played all but 17 minutes of England’s Euro 2020 campaign. Indeed, Kane will almost certainly lead the Three Lions into the 2022 World Cup assuming he is fit, and even then Southgate has shown he is willing to start a half-fit Kane over other options.
Nonetheless, England will need different attacking options in Qatar and there remains uncertainty over which striker Southgate will pick as a depth option behind Kane.
Graham Ruthven assesses six different candidates to perform this role for the national team.
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Handed a start in Saturday’s World Cup qualifier away to Andorra, Tammy Abraham found the back of the net in a 5-0 win. The 24-year-old has revived his career since making the summer move to Roma, where he has scored four goals in 10 appearances, and is seemingly one of Southgate’s favourites.
Jose Mourinho has unlocked areas of Abraham’s game that went unappreciated during his time at Chelsea. The 24-year-old has been able to showcase his skills as a dribbler and a facilitator. Previously renowned as a penalty box poacher, Abraham might well be the best like-for-like deputy to Kane.
Southgate has had no choice but to consider Patrick Bamford as an important member of his England squad such has been the Leeds United striker’s form over the past year or so. Bamford struck 17 times in the Premier League last season and is now firmly in Southgate’s thoughts after making his international debut against Andorra last month.
Bamford has the all-round game to play his part in England’s build-up play, something that could mean he is capable of deputising for Kane without Southgate having to change his whole approach. However, he will have to up his numbers having scored just once in five games this season.
With 11 caps to his name, Dominic Calvert-Lewin is an established member of the England squad and surely stands the best chance of being considered Southgate’s first-choice deputy for Kane. However, the 24-year-old made just two appearances at Euro 2020, playing just 17 minutes in total.
Calvert-Lewin has three goals in three Premier League appearances this season. He provides any team he plays for with aerial presence and gives England a different dimension in attack. The Everton forward could even forge a partnership with Kane if the situation requires it.
On natural talent alone, Mason Greenwood is the standout name on this list. Indeed, the 20-year-old is widely considered one of the brightest young prospects England has produced in a number of years, yet his international career hasn’t quite taken off like his club career has for Manchester United.
Southgate has still to hand Greenwood a call-up after he was sent home from a national team camp a year ago. There are also questions over where the United attacker is most effective, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer using him most frequently on the right wing even when many believe he is most effective up front.
Had it not been for injury, Danny Ings surely would have been included in Southgate’s England squad for Euro 2020. The 29-year-old has enjoyed a career renaissance since making the move to Southampton two years ago. Since his move to Aston Villa he has started the 2021/22 season with two goals in seven Premier League appearances.
Ings could give England an unpredictable edge in the attacking third. The former Liverpool forward is capable of producing something out of nothing and is one of the most instinctive finishers in the English game right now. The 2022 World Cup might be Ings’ final chance to make a major tournament squad.
Ivan Toney has yet to receive a call-up at any level of the international game, but the Brentford striker has made an instant impact in the Premier League this season and is surely on Southgate’s radar, even more so after the 25-year-old reportedly rejected the offer to play for Jamaica.
Southgate could make good use of Toney as a member of his England squad. He is a good finisher, is capable of operating as a lone striker or as part of a front two, links up with others well, can hold up the ball and even shoulders his share of the defensive workload. Toney’s candidacy is a strong one and is getting stronger.
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