Unlikely heroes? Ollie Watkins & Ivan Toney may start for England vs. Brazil

England Men Training Session
England Men Training Session / Michael Regan/GettyImages

England's attack will be missing its talisman as star striker Harry Kane is definitively ruled out for the upcoming friendly against Brazil at Wembley due to an ankle injury. The news, confirmed by manager Gareth Southgate, creates a prime opportunity for Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins and Brentford's Ivan Toney to step into the spotlight.

Kane, who has been a powerhouse for Bayern Munich this season with 31 Bundesliga goals, sustained the injury during a recent club victory. While the setback isn't severe, it leaves his potential participation in the following match against Brazil and Belgium in doubt.

Southgate, however, sees a silver lining in Kane's absence. He views this as a "brilliant opportunity" for Watkins and Toney to showcase their abilities on the international stage. Watkins has been a consistent force for Aston Villa, netting 16 goals and racking up 10 assists in his Premier League campaign – a testament to his versatility. He made a strong England debut back in March 2021, even scoring in the 5-0 win over San Marino, and has since earned a total of 9 caps with 3 goals.

Toney, on the other hand, has been fighting his way back into contention after an eight-month ban for breaching betting rules. Since his return in January, the Brentford striker has found the back of the net 4 times in 10 Premier League matches. His initial England call-up came in September 2022, and he finally made his international debut this past March during a win over Ukraine.

The upcoming matches take on additional intrigue as England, enjoying a 10-match unbeaten run, faces off against a Brazil side that has stumbled in recent World Cup qualifiers. Fans will be eager to see if Watkins and Toney can seize the moment.

Adding to the dynamic, England will be without several other key players due to injury, including Jordan Henderson, Cole Palmer, Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Jack Grealish, Luke Shaw, and Kalvin Phillips.

This opens the field for potential England debuts from Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite, Newcastle's Anthony Gordon, and Aston Villa's Ezri Konsa.

As the Three Lions prepare for these exciting, albeit challenging, friendlies, all eyes will be on Watkins and Toney. Can they fill the void left by Kane's absence and prove themselves as reliable attacking options for Gareth Southgate's squad?