As Gareth Southgate names England’s World Cup squad on Thursday, Antonio Conte has warned that Harry Kane is so fatigued he had to stop training to rest on the eve of Tottenham’s Carabao Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest.
The Spurs manager played the England captain for the first hour of a tired performance on a night when Jesse Lingard posted a reminder that he can help Forest continue their resurgence.
Conte said he had no alternative but to field Kane, who is not injured, as he had no other fit strikers and praised a selfless attitude that Southgate, the England manager, will recognise but not necessarily appreciate as he copes with his own injury crisis. Kane has started all 21 of Spurs’ games this season.
On a night when Lingard assisted Renan Lodi for Forest’s opener before scoring his first goal for the club since his free transfer from Manchester United, Spurs went two goals behind for the fifth successive domestic game.
But while Forest could toast a fourth consecutive home game without defeat and a place in the last 16 of this competition, the main talking point after this game was Kane’s fitness for a World Cup campaign that kicks off in Doha against Iran a week on Monday.
“This morning we waited to see if he could start or not,” Conte said. “In this situation he was the only striker. I can only say thanks for the availability they show me.
“In our hearts and minds was the desire to go ahead in this competition. But the difference was the energy. It was really different between us and Nottingham Forest.
“Other players maybe they could tell me I’m tired and don’t want to play and help the team. When I speak, I have a group of players who are before players they are men, and because of this another could be selfish and think for himself because in one week they have to play the World Cup. Instead, Harry Kane showed to be a really good man.