Club v country talk ‘nonsense’, says Southgate
Burton-on-Trent – England manager Gareth Southgate has dismissed talk of a club-versus-country row following Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane's withdrawal from his squad.
Kane, the Premier League's joint-top scorer, pulled out of England's squad to face Germany and Brazil in friendlies after sustaining a knock in Spurs' 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last weekend.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino subsequently said he expected Kane to be fit to face Arsenal on November 18, but Southgate dismissed suggestions the striker had put his club before his country.
"I knew Harry Kane was in trouble (against Palace) because he stayed down. Harry Kane doesn't stay down," Southgate told a press conference at England's St George's Park training base in Burton-on-Trent on Thursday.
"Both him and Harry Winks were scanned. Our medical department reviewed both scans and no way they were available for our two games. Spurs might risk them for the game with Arsenal, but it's a different matter.
"I'm hearing this talk of club v country and it's a nonsense. The players are injured and cannot play."
Southgate's preparations for Friday's friendly against Germany at Wembley have been disrupted by a raft of withdrawals.
In addition to Kane and Winks, Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Fabian Delph have also pulled out, while defender Gary Cahill sat out training on Thursday with an unspecified injury.
Southgate, who late Thursday named Kane's Spurs team-mate Eric Dier as skipper for the Germany game, is expected to award a full debut to Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the uncapped 21-year-old Chelsea midfielder who is currently on loan at Crystal Palace.
He has also called up Everton defender Michael Keane, uncapped Burnley midfielder Jack Cork and West Bromwich Albion's Jake Livermore as cover.
England's last game against Germany, a 1-0 friendly defeat in Dortmund in March, was marred by a small number of England fans who booed the German anthem and sang songs about World War II.
England's Football Association subsequently handed out its first life bans to two supporters who were found to have performed Nazi gestures.
Southgate urged England's supporters to be on their best behaviour and praised Germany's decision to join England in wearing poppy armbands to coincide with Britain's Armistice Day commemorations.
"I think it was unacceptable, completely unacceptable," Southgate said of the scenes in Dortmund.
"We have a huge percentage of fans who follow us brilliantly. We experienced that in Lithuania (in England's last World Cup qualifying match) when we went over to the supporters at the end of the game.
"Things that were shouted that night were totally unacceptable. We've moved on from those times. They don't represent us as a team, the people who do that.
"But we're talking about individuals. The mass majority of supporters are brilliant. To add to that, Germany have taken a huge step in agreeing to wear the poppy in this fixture, so that should also be noted.
"We appreciate what they're doing."
After facing world champions Germany, England bring the curtain down on 2017 with a glamour friendly against Brazil on Tuesday and defender John Stones is relishing the prospect of the two matches.
"It's exciting for me personally," said the Manchester City centre-back.
"Coming up against the best always brings you to your best. It's going to be a great atmosphere for the fans, with Wembley packed out again.
"We've got to go out there, show what we can do and put them on the back foot. With the players we've got, the hunger that everyone's got in their bellies, it's a great occasion."