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Why is Harry Kane on corners? England striker's new role criticised

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 11: Harry Kane of England prepares for a corner kick during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B match between England and Russia at Stade V
Image: Harry Kane took all six of England's corners against Russia

Why is Harry Kane taking corners? It's a question many England fans are asking - and struggling to answer - following the country's 1-1 draw with Russia at Euro 2016.

The Tottenham striker was top scorer in the Premier League last season but, rather than aiming to get on the end of corners in Marseille, Kane was delivering them - with mixed success - in England's tournament opener.

Kane took six corners against Russia on Saturday night, with two particularly poor efforts flying over the box, forcing Dele Alli to dash after the ball to keep it in play on the other side of the field.

In the Premier League this season, Kane took just seven corners for Tottenham, where Christian Eriksen is the dedicated set-piece specialist. And all seven of those Kane corners were taken short.

Kane's corners vs Russia

1 - Overhit. Alli retrieves on other side of pitch.
2 - Finds Smalling. Defender heads over from penalty spot.
3 - Cleared at near post.
4 - Cleared at near post.
5 - Overhit. Russia clear.
6 - Short to Lallana. Kane receives the ball back but cross just evades Cahill.

However, he was handed corner-kick duty by Roy Hodgson for England's first Euro 2016 warm-up game against Turkey on May 22 and has continued to take them since.

"I don't need to apologise for Kane taking a corner," Hodgson said at the time. "Especially if you've got a player with his quality striking a ball and no one else in the team who comes up to that level of striking a ball."

It's a move Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp is critical of. The former Liverpool captain - an expert at striking a dead ball during his playing days - says the responsibility should fall to an England midfielder, so Kane can concentrate on scoring himself.

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We need Kane in the box. To have our best striker taking corners doesn't make any sense.
Jamie Redknapp

"We're allowing one of our best players to take corners - and it's not good news. I can't understand it," he told Sky Sports News HQ's Euro Verdict.

"We've got some very good technical players - Alli, Wayne Rooney - so why are we letting Harry Kane take them? He can deliver a good ball and he has that cross where it dips into the box, but I'm sure most players can do that. We need Kane in the box. To have our best striker taking corners doesn't make any sense."

Ray Wilkins, a former set-piece taker for England, was equally confused by the tactic.

"It baffles the life out of me," he said. "If you're a midfield player playing at international level and you can't kick a ball 40 yards, unopposed, and stick it in an area of 10 yards at a height where you have an opportunity to score, you shouldn't really be playing."

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 11:  Harry Kane of England prepares for a corner kick during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B match between England and Russia at Stade
Image: Kane only took seven corners for Tottenham all season - and all were short passes

Indeed, in the past two Premier League seasons Kane has scored 10 times from set-piece situations (not including his one goal direct from a free-kick) and, in 2015/16, no player scored more goals from inside the box. All the indicators are he'd be a more than useful presence in the opposition box for corner-kick routines.

However, the bare facts of his corner-taking at Euro 2016 make for interesting reading: no player has completed more successful corners so far in the tournament and Kane's corner-kick stats are far more impressive than Dimitri Payet's efforts for France against Romania.  

Corner-kick takers in first two days of Euro 2016

Player Country Corners taken Found team-mate Success rate
Nicolae Stanciu Romania 3 3 100%
Harry Kane England 6 4 66.6%
Xherdan Shaqiri Switzerland 3 2 66.6%
Taulant Xhaka Albania 2 1 50%
Vladimir Weiss Slovakia 2 1 50%
Oleg Shatov Russia 3 1 33%
Dimitri Payet France 5 1 20%
Adrian Popa Romania 1 0 0%
Ricardo Rodriguez Switzerland 1 0 0%
Ermir Lenjani Albania 1 0 0%
Ergys Kace Albania 1 0 0%
Aaron Ramsey Wales 2 0 0%
Robert Mak Slovakia 1 0 0%
Aleksandr Kokorin Russia 1 0 0%

It should be pointed out, though, that one of Kane's completed corners was a short pass to Adam Lallana and another found Alli - who had to fetch the ball from the far side of the field after it had been over hit.

None of England's other starters against Russia are regular corner-kick takers for their clubs - although second-half sub James Milner took 116 in the Premier League for Liverpool - so Kane seems likely to retain the role for England's second Group B game with Wales.

Until an England player heads home one of his centres, the debate about his suitability for the task will rumble on…

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