A few weeks back, I wrote about the future of England’s national side, and how the likes of James Ward-Prowse and Will Hughes could guide England to glory at Russia 2018 and Euro 2020. Engand face Lithuania in 10 days or so, which to be fair they should win easily. Having had a conversation with both of my brothers during the Man Utd-Tottenham game yesterday led me to believe England have a better team than most think – and could well go far in France next year.
While on the subject of Danny Rose, and his exploration of representing Jamaica – we went through the list of Left Backs England have available at the moment – Kieran Gibbs, Luke Shaw, Aaron Cresswell, Leighton Baines as well as Danny Rose if he wants to compete. There you have three young left backs who, bar Shaw at the moment, are doing well, and Baines who has gone off the boil this season. Since his move from Ipswich, Cresswell has really impressed me and may well be ahead of Shaw in the pecking order now.
Upfront we have Danny Welbeck, who is a decent striker who can play wide, as well as Danny Sturridge who is looking back to his best. Then you have Harry Kane, Saido Berahino and Charlie Austin – as well as Wayne Rooney if he were to be played that far up (but he will stay in attacking midfield I would think).
On the wings we have Raheem Sterling, Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha, Alex Oxlade Chamerlain, Tom Ince, Nathan Redmond as well as the returning Theo Walcott – all impressing now they are getting regular football. Jay Rodriguez is one to come back into the fold after a long injury lay-off.
When we look at the defence, more particularly Right Back – Nathaniel Clyne looks to have the spot now that Glen Johnson’s career is slowly petering out. Kyle Walker is an apt backup – though not the player he was a season or two ago. Centre Back is a worry – Jagielka and Cahill are the best two options, any further back and you find Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, who do not inspire confidence. Of the younger options – Eric Dier and Jon Stones – both however need to mature a lot before they are ready.
Central midfield is another worry – Jordan Henderson looks decent at times, Wilshere will spend more time in the treatment room than on the pitch between now and June 2016 and Ross Barkley looks a bit lost at the moment after being brought into the NT too soon. The other options are those such as Delph. Rodwell, Colback, Mason – who can all do a job. Colback for me has been fantastic at Newcastle sitting deeper, with great tackling and good link play. Mason has also been very good for Spurs recently, and could even earn a call up for the friendly against Italy. Rodwell has disappeared at Sunderland, so you can probably discount him. Ward Prowse could be in the squad by that point given the few options. Ravel Morrison is set to move to Lazio in preparation for next season – he has already played for Cardiff and West Ham, so cannot appear this season. He is talented no doubt, and if he keeps his nose clean in Rome, he could be an option is a few years time! One I forgot was Adam Lallana – an excellent option in midfield, that Hodgson will probably put on the left side of three behind Sturridge.
Finally, in goal – Joe Hart has the No 1 spot tied down for now. Fraser Forster provides an excellent backup, now performing very well for Southampton. Jack Butland is also coming along nicely, and is more a future option. Hart and Forster have us sorted for now!
Team for Euro 2016?
We all know we have qualified…baring a loss to every other team, we are there. Top 2 is automatic to the 24 team tournament. But who will start? My team is as follows:
(4-4-2): Joe Hart, Nathaniel Clyne, Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill, Kieran Gibbs, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge.
And this is the team Roy Hodgson will probably go with:
(4-2-3-1): Hart, Clyne, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines, Henderson, Wilshere, Lallana, Rooney, Sterling, Sturridge.
England seriously lack anything on the left wing. Danny Welbeck could play there, but he wants to be recognised a striker – and with Kane and Sturridge banging them in – not going to happen! I feel Theo Walcott or even Andros Townsend could do an excellent job there as most footballers nowadays are two-footed (no jokes, please…)
If Harry Kane keeps up his current form, Hodgson won’t be able to not pick him. He is good at holding the ball, and possibly he and Sturridge could form a Shearer/Sheringham partnership in a very British 4-4-2, a diamond with Rooney playing behind them and Henderson sitting deeper, in a Gerrard type role. Another option is Kane playing a No. 10 role, dropping deeper to get the ball, and Rooney plays on the left side of a 4-2-3-1, but with his lack of pace, I don’t see that happening.
Leighton Baines has really gone off the boil this season – and he is now in his 30’s so the likes of Gibbs and Shaw could well be preferred. Gibbs has pretty much been 1st choice at Arsenal this season and done very well in his 30 games or so. Only 6 England caps to his name, but he may start to get more of a look in with Shaw likely to be dropped to the Under 21’s. Nathaniel Clyne is pretty much a shoe-in at right back – can’t remember the last time I seen Glen Johnson!
Jordan Henderson, Wayne Rooney, Raheem Sterling, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Joe Hart and Daniel Sturridge are pretty much guaranteed starts. Jack Wilshere might well be in there if he is fit, but how often is that?
With what we have at our disposal, and if we perform to what we should, a semi final isn’t out of the question. That may sound very optimistic, but perfectly possible. Holland don’t look the same and have an ageing squad with not a lot of younger players coming through and have been beaten by the Czech and Iceland national teams recently. Spain look beatable, Germany look the team to beat. The likes of Portugal, Switzerland, Belgium, Croatia, Poland and a great deal of the sides likely to quality are very beatable.
If England get their heads right, and take their chances – I really think they could at least get a Quarter-Final in France next year