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Bad news for England skipper Kane ahead of Brazil clash

AP PHOTO

Harry Kane has been ruled out of England's glamour friendly against Brazil and manager Gareth Southgate says he is "extremely doubtful" to face Belgium.

Already without a number of injured regulars for March's Wembley double-header, the Euro 2020 runners-up saw Bukayo Saka withdraw through injury on Thursday.

England vice-captain Jordan Henderson and Cole Palmer remain with the camp but they too are sidelined for Saturday's sold-out friendly against the Selecao, along with Kane.

The skipper sustained an ankle injury playing for Bayern Munich last weekend and also faces the possibility of missing Tuesday's game against Belgium - the final match before Southgate names his Euro 2024 squad.

"Tomorrow no Harry Kane, no Jordan Henderson, no Cole Palmer," England boss Southgate said.

"I would say Cole and Hendo have a better chance of Belgium than Harry. He'd be extremely doubtful for that."

Asked what it says about Kane who wants to be in camp despite likely missing both matches, Southgate said: "It has increasingly become the culture.

"Bukayo had a couple of days with this as well. Hendo is obviously doing everything he can to be available.

"Sometimes I think people think, 'oh, they're not fit, they're ruled out of both games' but you have a few more days until the second game and you always want to try to use that time if we can.

"So, we'll see where those boys get to, but it's of course great when your captain sets that example."

England's all-time top scorer Kane's absence is a blow but offers a chance for Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney to fight it out to be his back-up at the Euros.

The former has scored three goals in nine international appearances, while Toney's one England appearance came off the bench against Ukraine this time last year.

The Brentford striker began an eight-month Football Association ban shortly after and was recalled at the first opportunity.

"Well, that is a decision we will have to make because clearly a nine is a specialist position," Southgate said when asked if three out-and-out strikers is too many in a 23-man squad for the summer.

"They have different attributes and that would depend a little bit on injury status in other positions in the squad and also having perhaps players that can play more than one role.

"I think both of them are aware that the opportunity is a big one. But they're both in good form, they've both had time with us."

Despite the absentees, England are favourites to beat rebuilding Brazil in their first match under head coach Dorival Junior.

The Selecao have won 10 of their last 11 friendlies against European opposition but are looking to avoid losing four matches in a row since 2001.