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Should Harry Kane start or be rested for England’s final Group G game against Belgium on Thursday?

10:59 am, 25th June 2018

Kane’s hat-trick in the 6-1 win over Panama on Sunday saw the England captain move on to five goals for the tournament, one above Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku in the Golden Boot race.

Victory also secured qualification for England from Group G, with Belgium also making it through with considerable ease.

It means England’s game against Belgium on Thursday is a fight for first, and though the benefits of topping the group remain up for debate, the Sunday Supplement panel agreed it was a chance to rest a number of players – namely Kane.

The Telegraph’s Jason Burt said: “England are in a position where they have the luxury of being able to rest players, and I think they should because, where it was seen as a mistake in France two years ago, this England team are playing well.

“The mood is buoyant and everyone is in good shape and fit except for Dele Alli. I don’t think it’s suddenly going to break the rhythm of the squad if they allow the other lads to come in.

“They’ve used 17 of the 23 so far. Bring the others in, give them a game, give people a rest, give Harry Kane a rest, please give Harry Kane a rest, and then move on.

“I don’t think it will break the rhythm. It didn’t break the rhythm in the warm-up games. He played different teams against Nigeria and Costa Rica. Do it again.”

The fact Kane is in pole position for the Golden Boot means Gareth Southgate faces a difficult decision when picking his starting XI against Belgium, but the Daily Mail‘s Matt Lawton says personal glory must not trump that of the team’s.

“I would say to Harry Kane, ‘Right, tell me what you would rather have, Golden Boot, or a semi-final or final’,” said Lawton.

“You’ve got a better chance of going further in the tournament if you rest him, in my opinion. It’s potentially a seven-match tournament, you give him a rest after two games.

“I think that’s a very sensible thing to do. I don’t think he does [give them the option to start or be rested], but that’s the way you respond in trying to manage it. It’s personal glory versus glory for the team. I don’t even think it’s a debate.”

Burt added: “The fact he’s the captain might help Southgate. ‘You’re the captain, I need you to sit out this one, I need you the next game, you’re so important to me.’

“I think that might help. Notwithstanding the fact I think England need to try and keep momentum, but he is the one player I would think about resting. I’d think let’s take him out because you don’t want him injured in a game you don’t need to win. That would kill momentum if England lost him.”