Euro 2016

Taking corners not England's forte

England's manager Roy Hodgson at a news conference on June 16.
England's manager Roy Hodgson at a news conference on June 16. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • If Roy Hodgson was looking for crumbs of comfort after his somewhat mystifying decision to persist with Harry Kane on corner duty throughout the 1-1 draw with Russia, he won't find it from last season's Premier League statistics.

Kane, the Premier League's top scorer with 25 goals last season, took all six of England's corners in their Group B opener, one less than he took all season in the top flight for Tottenham.

What is more, all seven of his corners for Spurs were taken short and not crossed into the penalty area.

Armed with that statistic from Opta, his mixed bag of efforts against Russia was not surprising, with two going off target and flying over the box.

Four of them found team-mates, but one was played short to Adam Lallana and another had to be fetched by Dele Alli after sailing over to the other side of the pitch.

Kane has been England's designated corner taker since the first Euro 2016 warm-up game against Turkey on May 22.

It's not just Kane's prowess as a corner taker - or lack of it - that counts against him, however. He's also a decent person to have on the end of corners, having scored the joint third-highest number of goals from set pieces last season (3).

And last season no player scored more goals from inside the box.

So who could take over corner duty and allow one of England's more potent strikers to roam freely?

Wayne Rooney has been mooted as an alternative but he took only three corners in the league for Manchester United, one of which reached the danger area, while Adam Lallana, another favourite, took 14 with only two successful.

James Milner is a more regular set-piece taker for Liverpool, but he is not a guaranteed starter and has a measly success rate of 31.7 per cent.

However, Hodgson, who said he didn't need to apologise for choosing Kane, may take some solace in the fact that English football's top flight yielded very few scoring chances from corners last season.

In the Premier League 4,107 corners were taken, with just 141 goals scored from them, a success rate of only 3.4 per cent.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'Taking corners not England's forte'. Print Edition | Subscribe