USMNT vs. England: Is star striker Harry Kane healthy?

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Mystery surrounded the status of England captain Harry Kane’s fitness on Wednesday, a situation with potentially seismic ramifications for the United States’ hopes of continuing its World Cup journey.

The England camp and head coach Gareth Southgate have given mixed messages on the condition of the star forward’s right ankle, which was injured during Monday’s comfortable 6-2 victory over Iran.

Ahead of Friday’s meeting against the USA (2 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app), England has departed from its usual protocol in such matters, offering no definitive information on Kane’s health and keeping the media and public guessing.

What Harry Kane’s injury means for USMNT

The “FIFA World Cup Live” crew discusses England’s striker Harry Kane and his ankle injury.

“They are being very secretive about it,” Matt Lawton, chief sports correspondent for The Times told me on Wednesday. “It is very unusual, because while they like to be quite secretive about their team — they are not normally secretive about injuries.

“I actually think the journalists covering England are a little bit annoyed by this. They asked about Kane on Tuesday, they were told he’s OK. Then a story appears that he’s been for a scan.”

Several publications reported that Kane indeed underwent an ankle scan, without providing further details.

Then, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford told reporters that Kane had taken been present for Wednesday’s closed training session.

“I think he is good,” Pickford said. “Probably a bit sore, but he’s out on the grass today with us. He’s fine, yeah.”

Kane’s injury was sustained in the 49th minute of the Iran game, with England in firm control. Morteza Pouraliganji was yellow-carded as a result of the fierce collision, in which Pouraliganji’s weight landed on Kane’s ankle.

USMNT turns focus toward England

Doug McIntyre joined Jenny Taft and Alexi Lalas to discuss the USMNT’s disappointing draw with Wales, Giovanni Reyna’s comeback, and how Gregg Berhalter will prepare for England.

Whether Kane plays — and whether he is a full capacity — could be of huge significance to USA head coach Gregg Berhalter’s tactical plans. Kane is one of the best strikers in the world and a constant danger to any team he faces. Defenders Tim Ream and Walker Zimmerman would need to be at their absolute best to contain him.

USA defender Cameron Carter-Vickers is highly familiar with Kane from his time at EPL side Tottenham and spoke to the England man’s consistency and professionalism.

“Training with him, you see everything about how hard he works, his dedication, on and off the field, it is top-notch,” Carter-Vickers said. “He’s done that for so many years.”

The USA, by comparison, has a full clean bill of health, with every member of the squad fit and available for selection by Berhalter on Friday, including exciting forward Gio Reyna, who did not play in Monday’s 1-1 draw with Wales.

A win for England would clinch qualification to the knockout round, while three points for the Americans would be a serious lift as it attempts to equal or better the team’s run to the round of 16 in 2010 and 2014.

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Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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