Euro 2016 Countdown: Hodgson’s Choice


For the younger ones, you might not have got that reference to the 1954 film Hobson’s Choice. May I thank my Grandad for sitting me down infront of all the old classic’s during my youth…

So – 6 months or so until Euro 2016 kicks off, and most teams will have a good idea about their best starting 11. England? Of course not. With such a small pool of players to pick from, you would think it’s an easy choice. But with injuries, fitness battles, poor performers and new kids on the block, Roy Hodgson has a massive headache to sort over the coming months, and I for one think a lot of teams envy him right now.

In basically every position there is a battle going. From GK to Striker, there is competition for places, and even an argument on the best formation! With Rooney playing poorly, Sturridge and Welbeck injured and then Kane and Vardy on fire – who do you drop? Or do you simply play 4-4-2? England’s success next summer rests on Roy’s ageing shoulders, but the question is will he buckle – and continue picking an out-of-form captain, or grow a pair and play Kane and Vardy? Here are the options England have next summer:


This is possibly the simplest one. Joe Hart, or Jack Butland.

The former has not kept a clean sheet in ages – with an ever-changing back four that has suffered without Vincent Kompany. Mangala, Demichelis and Otamendi have been very average, which has not helped his case.

Butland on the other hand has kept a fair amount of clean sheets and made world-class saves. There is no doubt he is the next number one – but the question is ‘Will 2016 Euro’s come too soon?’. I think so – Hart is the tried and tested, and despite a few muck-ups in the last year or two he is a safe pair of hands who I feel is reliable enough to take us to France this summer.

Right Back

Another simple one – Nathaniel Clyne or Kyle Walker.

Walker has been improving recently and is much nearer the player that was first choice not so long ago. Clyne has come on leaps and bounds in the last 18 months, but has stalled a bit recently, despite his MOTM award from the Sun in their game against Leicester. Both are pacey, but neither have a great end product, so should England play 4-4-2 wit Vardy and Kane, service might be an issue. Despite the upturn in form, I think Clyne is still the outstanding choice.

Left Back

This is a very hard choice. There are three or four candidates!

You have the young guns of Luke Shaw, Kieron Gibbs and Ryan Bertrand – and then the old head of Leighton Baines – who in the last 12 months has really gone off the boil with a lot of injuries. Shaw is also out long-term, but could return in the coming 3-4 months and earn a spot. Gibbs has been ousted by Nacho Monreal this season, and is getting precious little game time. Bertrand has been average for Southampton after a fantastic 14/15 season after his move from Chelsea.

If all fully fit, Shaw is the one for me. If he is out, I’d probably go for Gibbs.

Centre Back

Another head-scratcher. Options of Stones, Smalling, Jagielka, Cahill, Jones, Shawcross and even Scott Dann!

I think Stones is a shoe-in, looking comfortable on the ball and good in the air. Smalling, this season has come on very well and looks favourite to partner Stones. The others – Jagielka and Cahill have both regressed in struggling teams, while Shawcross and Dann have both done very well in strong defensive units, but both are unlikely to even travel. Jones is seen too much as a utility, and thanks to that a potentially good career at centre back was ruined by playing in midfield and right back.

Picking Stones and Smalling is seen as risky due to both being quite young and inexperiend, but both looked good in the latest set of friendlies. I’d rather them than Jags or Cahill, on current form – and that is how you have to judge players.

Central Midfield

This is a really tough one! Ross Barkley, Jordan Henderson, Jack Wilshere, Fabian Delph and James Milner all in with a chance.

Wilshere is far too injury prone, but when fit and playing he is a joy to watch – just look at his goals against Slovenia! Barkley too is a gem, and his play in the last 12 months has come on leaps and bounds. Footwork is sublime, and for me he has to play. James Milner has been widely used, and with his battling persona, I can see why Hodgson has used him so much. Quality wise, not great – his passing leaves a lot to be desired, and his club-captain Jordan Henderson is the better option – however fitness again an issue as he missed a lot of the games in the last 2 years. In a 4-4-2, Hendo and Barkley are a must, while in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, the one to join should be Adam Lallana if Wilshere does not make the cut. Great feet, intricate passing and an eye for goal. In a 4-4-2, I don’t think he posses the pace and penetration going forward, or the steel to get back and help out.

Barkley and Henderson in a 4-4-2, while Wilshere/Lallana added in a 4-3-3.

Right Midfield/Wing

An easy one for me – Theo Walcott has returned from a host of injury problems to ease himself back into the setup. Andros Townsend and Aaron Lennon have regressed, while Chamberlain does not get enough game time at Arsenal to be considered a starter. With his pace and direct running, he should cause most defences next summer a world of problems.

Walcott a definite!

Left Midfield/Wing

Another sure-fire starter – Raheem Sterling.

There are few others giving him a run for his money, with Jay Rodriguez not fully back to form or fitness after his long-term injury.

Sterling has been very good at City, and weather in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, he should occupy the left wing.


So – this is the biggie!

With Rooney massively out of form – for me he is unpickable in any position. Danny Sturridge and Welbeck are both injured and unable to stay fit for more than a few games at a time in the case Sturrigde.

The main decision is to either play Kane or Vardy, or both. The latter has been used on the wing in recent games for England, but that for me is a waste of his clever runs and finishing ability. Kane on the other hand has recovered from a poor start to the season, scoring 13 goals in just over 20 games.

Watford and Leicester have really surprised everyone this season, and for me it’s because they have gone back to the old-fashioned 4-4-2, and with central defenders used to one striker, having to deal with two has left them dumbfounded. Ighalo and Deeney at Watford, Vardy and Okazaki at Leicester – the problems caused have resulted in 38 goals between them

The New Sherigham and Shearer?

This is a big statement, but in a 4-4-2, these two could be deadly.

Vardy has the pace, vision, timing and cleverness of Sheringham. He makes excellent runs in behind defenders and also has great finishing.

Kane has the aerial ability, hold-up play, power and finishing of a young Shearer. He can hit them from 25 yards, and is still very good with the ball at his feet. It also must be noted that he is a lot less elbow-ey than Shearer…

With Rooney in such bad form, and Sturridge and Welbeck out intermittently – it’s a great option and if it is not tested in the March internationals or the warm up games, then Hodgson has missed a trick.

Team for Euro 2016

For me, as we speak now I would go with:

Hart, Clyne, Stones, Smalling, Gibbs, Walcott, Barkley, Henderson, Sterling, Kane, Vardy.

4-4-2, with Vardy playing off Kane (so a 4-4-1-1 could be the technical term).

Henderson would be the ideal captain, as he currently takes up the role at Liverpool and does a good job in my eyes.

All just my opinion, you might disagree but for me a good looking starting 11 and a mix of youth and experience.

This should be Hodgson’s last tournament – England really need a younger coach with newer ideas as the older style coaches always seem to go with the tried and tested method, which won’t win you an international competition


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