England have a striking crisis heading into their friendly clash against Germany and their World Cup qualifier with Lithuania following Harry Kane’s injury setback.
The Tottenham Hotspur striker was expected to lead the line for the Three Lions for the two matches after being previously unavailable at the end of the last year due to an ankle injury.
However, the 23-year-old suffered ligament damage to the same ankle just minutes into Spurs’ FA Cup quarter-final clash against Millwall after falling awkwardly at White Hart Lane.
Kane was in outstanding form, dramatically rising to lead the Premier League goalscoring charts with 19 strikes, including two hat-tricks and two braces since the turn of the year.
As a result, Gareth Southgate has a tough time to replace the forward, with injuries to Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge further limiting his options.
England are still comfortably backed in the latest international football betting to beat Lithuania, but the issues surrounding the squad are worrisome looking ahead to the 2018 World Cup.
Encouragingly Jamie Vardy has shown signs of life since Leicester parted company with Claudio Ranieri, although he still only has seven goals to his name this term.
The 30-year-old has not done a great deal to disprove that his 24-goal campaign was not a flash in the pan, failing to display the same clinical edge in front of goal.
Marcus Rashford has an abundance of ability, but he has seen his first-team opportunities limited at Manchester United by the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
He played well in his side’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Chelsea, but has not scored a Premier League goal since September, and only seven in 36 appearances in all competitions this term.
Danny Welbeck has returned from his injury layoff, but his injury history is a major concern as there is always worry that his next fitness issue is only one game away.
The 26-year-old is an incredible talent and has proved it in the Premier League and for the Three Lions. His presence would be a major lift for Southgate, but whether he could be trusted for the long-tem future is another matter.
Those three players have been included in recent squads and are not entirely solid options, but alternatives are thin on the ground, highlighting England’s lack of depth in the striking department.
Gone are the days when the Three Lions were blessed with so much talent – high-calibre players could not break into the starting line-up ala Les Ferdinand, Ian Wright, Matt Le Tissier and Robbie Fowler.
Jermain Defoe could provide short-term relief for Southgate, especially for the double-header against Germany and Lithuania.
The 34-year-old has been nothing short of sensational this term for Sunderland – scoring 14 goals in a side that would have a truly embarrassing points total without his presence. He has lost none of his old spark in front of goal and arguably is playing the best football of his career.
Sadly for England there are no better alternatives in the Premier League – which is no slight on Defoe.
Andy Carroll’s fitness record is also poor, and although he scored an impressive goal in his side’s win against Crystal Palace – he has only six strikes in the Premier League this season.
Andre Gray has eight goals to his name, although his off-the-field digression earlier in the term could ward off interest from the Three Lions, while the same could be said for Troy Deeney – along with the fact that neither of those players are truly quality options.
Given England’s desperation Carroll and Defoe may have to be the men selected, proving that English football’s long-term prospects are not great – should injuries to key players persist.