England captain Harry Kane is gunning for the Golden Boot and wants to keep his World Cup scoring streak going rather than resting against Belgium.
Kane sits proudly on top of the World Cup scoring charts with five goals in two games after following up his match-winning double against Tunisia with a hat-trick in Sunday’s 6-1 rout of Panama.
A pair of thunderous penalties and a lucky third, deflected home via an unintentional flick of the heel, moved him one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku and the Tottenham man is eager to ride his hot streak as far as it will go.
With a place in the last 16 assured England boss Gareth Southgate must be tempted to wrap his skipper in cotton wool on Thursday night – particularly with no apparent benefit to topping Group G.
Lukaku is carrying a knock and looks sure to be rested by Roberto Martinez but Kane would resist any chance to do follow suit.
“I want to continue, the form I’m in, but whatever decision the gaffer makes we’ll get behind,” he said.
“That’s his decision, I guess, but obviously I want to play. The most important thing is always winning games, and if my goals help my team win then that’s the perfect situation.
“There’s a long way to go and a a lot of good players just behind me (on the list). Hopefully I can just continue and take it into Thursday’s game.”
England currently top the standings by a slender differential. With the same number of points as Belgium and an identical number of goals scored and conceded, a solitary yellow card splits the teams on disciplinary grounds.
Kane is not interested in second place – even if it seems to offer a gentler route through the competition – and would rather make keep the winning feeling in tact.
“It’s important we finish top,” he said.
“We’re ahead by a yellow card or something but we want to go and try to win the game and take the momentum into the knockout stages.”
Southgate has yet to decide his selection policy but could be leaning towards including those who have had minimal game time so far.
“I think that’s what we’ve got to do over the next 36 hours or so, to decide what our priority is,” he said.
“I have complete trust in all the players. At this moment my thoughts are with the players who haven’t played as much, but I have to consider everything before I decide upon my team.”
The only time Kane appeared remotely flustered on Sunday was when he was invited by an overseas broadcaster to select a song to mark his hat-trick.
He eventually settled on ‘One Kiss’ by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa but was back on safe ground as he reflected on the performance of both himself and his team.
“Not many players score a hat-trick in the World Cup, so I’m extremely proud of that,” he said.
“We are extremely proud of each other really. It’s not every time you go through after two games, so we’re happy with that.”