With the exception of 18-year-old Marcus Rashford, who will almost certainly be jettisoned when the final squad is announced, Roy Hodgson’s England squad contained few surprises.
Two main questions need to be resolved in the three friendly matches before the European Championships begin. Firstly, can England’s defenders learn the art of defending? After years of England sides having its defence as its strongest element, the country’s defenders now represent the team’s Achilles heel. Secondly, can Hodgson select Wayne Rooney and Dele Alli in the same side without nullifying the effectiveness of both?
Answers to both questions must be found if England are to succeed in France. My solution is a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Joe Hart in goal, protected by Nathaniel Clyne at right-back, Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling at centre-back and Danny Rose at left-back. In order to strengthen the defence, Eric Dier will play as a defensive midfielder and act as an extra centre-back, as he does at Tottenham Hotspur, when needed. In central midfield I would select James Milner, to bolster England’s right hand side, and Danny Drinkwater to help break up opposition attacks. Hodgson is likely to pick Jack Wilshere rather than Drinkwater but I’m selecting on form so the Leicester City player is rewarded for his spectacular season. Dele Alli will play at the top of the diamond where he is allowed to break forward in support of the two strikers – Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney.
Kane is England’s best forward and therefore must start. Jamie Vardy has enjoyed a wonderful season and will present an excellent option, alongside the likes of Raheem Sterling, to stretch tiring opposition defenders midway through the second half. However, Rooney’s experience, status as captain and crucially, his seven goals during qualifying show why he still has a vital role to play and, for the start of the tournament at least, deserves a place in the starting 11.
Over to you, Roy.