Gareth Southgate believes England fans will only have themselves to blame if Harry Kane becomes the country’s leading scorer in an empty stadium.
It is now a question of when and where Kane, whose penalty against Switzerland drew him level with Sir Bobby Charlton on 49 goals, will leapfrog the current record holder Wayne Rooney on 53. He’s now scored eight goals in his last three appearances.
Kane will look to take a step closer to immortality against Ivory Coast on Tuesday, when Wembley will once again be full, but after that two of the next three fixtures will be played behind closed doors as a consequence of bad fan behaviour.
However, there will be no fans allowed at two of those matches: the fixture away to Hungary on June 4 and at home, at Molineux, against Italy on June 11, because of the bad behaviour of supporters.
The Hungarians have been punished for racist abuse aimed at England players in a World Cup qualifier last year in Budapest while England were sanctioned after the appalling scenes at the final of Euro 2020 at Wembley.
“I don’t think he will worry where he is playing in terms of the opportunity to break the record,” Southgate said.
He added: “Of course, it would be lovely if it was at Wembley and if it was in the World Cup final it would be absolutely fine! But it would be hugely unfortunate if it was to happen with no fans. The games behind closed doors? Frankly we have seen and had enough of them.
‘For both countries, it is a punishment because our fans and their fans weren’t able to control themselves. That’s an embarrassment for us but it is the situation we have got. It would be particularly sad if that was the game where Harry broke the record.’
Southgate indicated that despite planning wholesale changes to his team after the 2-1 win over Switzerland on Saturday, he would not be holding his captain back for what will probably be the final friendly before the World Cup later this year.
“No, that’s not a tough decision,” Southgate said when asked whether Kane might be rested as players are rotated as they cope with a punishing fixture schedules for their clubs in the run-in to the season.
“We still can bring players from the bench and want to keep going on a positive run of results as well.”
Remarkably, Kane has now scored 15 goals in his past 11 appearances for England and, overall, his ratio is 0.72 goals per game in 68 appearances. Charlton played 106 times for his country; Rooney earned 120 caps and if Kane matches that total, and carries on scoring at the same rate, he will accumulate an astonishing 83 goals.
In fact only Jimmy Greaves – with 44 goals in 57 games – has a better ratio (0.77) in the top-five all-time list.