Gary Neville criticises Newcastle's Callum Wilson during World Cup debate
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Gary Neville criticises Newcastle's Callum Wilson during World Cup debate

Gary Neville believes England have a huge problem if they have to replace Harry Kane with Newcastle United’s Callum Wilson or Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford.

The England skipper picked up an ankle knock in the win over Iran, and has since undergone a scan to see how bad the injury is.

It has since been claimed that Kane will likely be available for Friday’s game against USA, meaning Wilson is unlikely to start his first international fixture since 2018.

The Newcastle 30-year-old appeared off the bench in the win over Iran and impressed. His assist for Jack Grealish was excellent, as he selflessly gave his teammate an open goal rather than score himself. It was a great moment for Wilson, and he was praised by Gareth Southgate for what he did.

Given his form for Newcastle this season, Wilson was the obvious choice to act as Kane’s deputy at the World Cup. But Neville believes the Three Lions will be in trouble if the Magpies’ number nine has to start ahead of the nation’s golden boy.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

What Neville said about Wilson

Neville discussed England’s injury concern during the buildup to Spain vs Costa Rica on ITV1 whilst on punditry duty. He explained why Southgate can’t afford to be without the Tottenham Hotspur striker.

“I think Wilson and Rashford are good when there’s space in behind,” Neville said.

“But I think if you’re playing with teams that have a deeper defence, they do struggle with their back to goal at times.

“With the quality that Harry’s got, he can drop in. What he’s been doing for Tottenham these past few years, his assists are as good as his goals.

“It would be a big concern in leadership, it would be a big concern in quality and we haven’t got a direct replacement, which we have in many other positions. But there we haven’t.”

Neville’s criticism is harsh

We are under no illusions here – Wilson is not on the same level as Kane. But Neville’s criticism of the Newcastle striker seems a bit harsh.

To say that Wilson struggles with his back to goal is completely wide of the mark. While it might be true of Rashford who is better out wide, it certainly isn’t the case with Wilson.

We have seen the £20million man bully defenders with his power. He did it brilliantly against Kane’s side back in October during a 2-1 win – a game where the 29-year-old was bested by Sven Botman.

Wilson has the pace to get in behind, but he can also play with his back to goal. He can be a focal point in attack with his deceptive strength.

And if Neville wants to look at assists, he surely hasn’t forgot the one Wilson laid on for Grealish just a few days ago.

Wilson is not the world class striker Kane is, but him starting for the Three Lions would not be the tragedy Neville seems to think it would be.