Danny Ings will not play again for England until March 2021 at the earliest after the Southampton striker was ruled out for up to six weeks.
Ings enjoyed an outstanding 2019-20 season at Saints after his move from Liverpool was made permanent, scoring 22 Premier League goals and forcing his way into Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
The 28-year-old featured against Iceland in September and then netted his first Three Lions goal at home to Wales last month, but he suffered a knee injury at Aston Villa last week.
Initial results were “favourable”, Saints said, but coach Ralph Hasenhuttl revealed on Wednesday the forward was set for “small surgery” and would miss “four to six weeks”.
Ings will not recover in time for the November international break – the final England fixtures of 2020 – as the race to be selection by Southgate for the European Championship hots up.
Using Opta data, we look at the other leading strikers contending for places in that squad.
England’s captain and the Golden Boot winner at the 2018 World Cup, Kane will – barring major injury – make the squad. But the Tottenham man is not being picked on name alone. Kane has six goals and eight assists in the league this season, attempting more shots (31) and creating more chances (14) than any other forward in the pool.
Rashford has dominated the headlines in recent months for his work battling child poverty in England, but he is delivering on the pitch as well. While many of his best performances have been reserved for the Champions League, the Manchester United forward has scored from both of his Premier League big chances – the only potential pick with a 100 per cent record – and has two assists from nine key passes.
Chelsea’s significant investment ahead of this season appeared to limit Abraham’s opportunities, but the striker has still played 288 minutes in the league and provided both a goal and an assist.
Calvert-Lewin might have already jumped ahead of Ings in the queue even before this injury. The Everton frontman, who scored against Wales on his international debut, is the Premier League’s leading marksman with eight goals – one every 76 minutes.
Ings is not the only forward to have been selected this season who is now sweating on his place. Greenwood departed early following his first call-up due to an off-field incident and has since struggled to impress in a United shirt. He has no goals and no assists in the Premier League this term, creating just two chances.
Wilson was in Southgate’s plans before struggling last term as Bournemouth were relegated. He has rediscovered his best form since joining Newcastle United, though, scoring six goals from just 16 shots – an impressive conversion rate of 37.5 per cent – and creating seven chances.
An unlikely candidate, Bamford was surely not expected to be in this conversation but has scored as many as Kane and Wilson this season while outperforming Rashford, Abraham and Greenwood. The Leeds United forward has taken just two of his eight big chances, however.
If he can be tempted out of international retirement, there is surely only one choice as Southgate considers replacements for Ings. Vardy scored and supplied an assist against Leeds on Monday, and his statistics as a pure striker blow away all others. The 33-year-old has seven goals – one every 67 minutes – and has scored with an outstanding 53.9 per cent of his shots. No rival has been in position for as many big chances as his 10 and he has taken seven of them.