England legend fears massive Southgate ‘mistake’ is coming with major star facing axe for Slovenia showdown

Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka in England training

Bukayo Saka could be dropped for England's final group game

Wayne Rooney fears England manager Gareth Southgate is set to make a mistake by dropping a top Three Lions star from the crunch Euro 2024 clash with Slovenia.

Southgate is expected to make changes for England’s final group game on Tuesday night after three underwhelming halves of football against Serbia and Denmark.

Having looked impressive in the first 45 minutes of their opening win over Serbia, Southgate’s men have regressed badly since and been heavily criticised by fans and the media alike.

One of the players being tipped to lose his place in the team is Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka, and Rooney admits he wouldn’t be surprised if that happened – even if it’s the wrong call.

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Saka has arguably been one of England’s better performers in those first two games, which isn’t really saying much. However, it’s thought that Phil Foden will be switched to his preferred right-wing position in place of the Gunners man.

That will likely mean Anthony Gordon partnering with Newcastle teammate Kieran Trippier down the left to give the Three Lions a bit more balance, unless Southgate opts to play Cole Palmer instead.

And speaking about Tuesday night’s game, in which England need to avoid defeat to progress, Rooney revealed what he thinks Southgate might do with his starting XI.

He told The Times: “It wouldn’t surprise me if Gareth Southgate moves Phil Foden to the right, brings in Anthony Gordon and leaves Bukayo Saka out.

“But I wouldn’t do that because I think Saka has been really good. He has been creative and provided some good balls into the box.”

Rooney calls for more Kane support

Rooney also feels that skipper Harry Kane has looked too isolated in those opening games and that Southgate will look to get England’s all-time record scorer more support against Slovenia.

Rooney accepts Kane has ‘started slowly’ but has no worries about the Bayern Munich man finding his feet in Germany on the international stage after his 44 goals in 45 games for the Bundesliga giants last summer.

“Let’s start with Harry Kane and the noise around the captain,” Rooney added. “OK, he has not had his best two games but he started slowly in the World Cup and Euro 2020 as well and knows how to pace himself at a finals.

“However he’s playing, he can always get goals as we saw versus Denmark, and he is still the one in the side who is going to do the scoring.

“I can understand why there is a debate raging about Harry but he has always delivered for England and I expect him to deliver again. However, now is his time to do so in this tournament and silence his critics.

“It is true that he’s not playing with a lot of energy and since the friendly against Iceland he has not looked match fit. He appears tired but Harry always looks like this when he is slightly off it, and always plays through it and gets back into gear.

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“There’s also an element of him having played in a different way for Bayern Munich over the past 12 months, where he stays at the top of the pitch and they put energy around him.

“So there’s also a natural bit of readjustment going on. I have no worries about him.”