Gareth Southgate could tell Harry Kane to carry on scoring for England at the World Cup as he weighs up team options for the group-stage closer against Belgium.
Golden Boot front-runner Kane has netted five times already in the tournament and has helped England secure a last-16 place with a game to spare.
England will go through to the next stage however they get on against Belgium, which has led to talk of players being rested.
But Kane has emerged as the team’s leader, both in terms of the captaincy and the importance of his finishing, and that could be a swaying factor when Southgate looks at individuals and decides where to make changes for Thursday’s game in Kaliningrad.
Asked about Kane’s prospects of facing Belgium, Southgate told talkSPORT: “As a manager you’ve got to think about the whole squad and then your second thought is always for individuals and their own situations – that’s a really complex balance in any business when you’re managing people, but I’m sure we will get that right.”
Southgate will not want England to lose any momentum, having started the tournament with wins over Tunisia and Panama.
But it seems certain there will be several changes, with England’s squad containing several players who could play important roles later in the tournament. The likes of Marcus Rashford and Danny Rose are among those.
Southgate said: “I’ve got to try and make the best decisions for the group and for this game in particular, and also for what we’ve got to come.
“This game will help us in that regard, there are lads who have been training incredibly hard and not been able to get on the field.
“And also if they’re going to come into matches in the knock-out stages it’s helpful for them if they are match-sharp – so that’s also got to be part of our thinking.”
Southgate has warned his players not to “waste any energy” trying to work out what might lie ahead if they finish first or second in Group G – and just focus on beating Belgium.
Just what path Southgate’s squad will take depends on the outcome of Thursday’s showdown.
Brazil or Germany could await in the quarter-finals, should the eventual group winners make it that far.
Southgate, though, is determined to keep everyone’s attention firmly on the next fixture rather than take too much interest in the World Cup wall chart.
“What I’ve discussed with the players is we must not waste any energy thinking whether it’s better to be first or second in the group, who we might play in future rounds,” the England manager told FIFA TV.
“We have to go out to play well in every game and to try and win every game. That’s straightforward in my mind.”
Southgate does not see any reason to get carried away just yet.
“I am amused when people are plotting the route right through to where we would rather stay in for the semi-final,” Southgate told ITV Sport.
“We have won one knock-out match in the last 15 years or so, so our focus is to keep winning. I don’t think we can look any further than that.”