Selection headaches, Harry Kane and penalties: Talking points ahead of England vs Senegal

England face Senegal in the last 16 of the World Cup on Sunday evening looking to move into the quarter-finals in Qatar.

Gareth Southgate’s side finished top of Group B with seven points, while Senegal progressed as runners-up to the Netherlands.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key talking points ahead of the clash at Al Bayt Stadium.

Harry trials

Golden boot winner at the 2018 World Cup, England captain Harry Kane has yet to get off the mark at these finals.

The Tottenham striker has, however, laid on three assists so far as the goals have been shared around England’s wide players.

While he is in good form generally, though, Kane will be desperate to get off the mark against Senegal.

No Mane, no problems

Senegal were rocked on the eve of the tournament when talisman Sadio Mane was forced to withdraw from the squad with a leg injury.

The Bayern Munich forward has 34 goals in 93 caps for his country and many anticipated Aliou Cisse’s side would struggle in Qatar without one of the best players in the world.

Instead, they have rallied and beat both the host nation and Ecuador to advance with the likes of Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Ismaila Sarr of Watford starring in Mane’s absence.

Penalty notice

With the group stages now behind us and the knockout rounds getting under way, the lottery of the penalty shoot-out looms large.

England have a history of struggling from the spot – including in last year’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy – with Southgate also having missed during the Euro 1996 loss to Germany at the semi-final stage.

But the nation took a big step forward four years ago in Russia, beating Colombia on penalties in the last 16 with Jordan Pickford impressing in goal and Eric Dier slamming home the deciding spot-kick – it will be those memories Southgate will be looking to invoke should the game go the distance.

Wide open

Southgate has a selection headache ahead of the game – but at least the problem posed is a good one as he must decide which of his wide attacking players start in Al Khor.

Marcus Rashford – who will collect his 50th cap if he plays any part – has three goals so far and is firmly in the hunt for the golden boot.

But with Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling also among England’s scorers in the group stage, Southgate has an embarrassment of riches as he plots a route into the last eight.


Defeat for England at this stage would be seen as a failure given the squad at Southgate’s disposal.

Having taken the nation to the semi-finals in Russia and the final of Euro 2020, he came under pressure for the first time during a winless run of six Nations League fixtures earlier this year.

Southgate’s contract runs to 2024 but he may decide – or the decision may be taken – that a last-16 exit here would spell the end of a successful tenure.