Which Three Lions forward should lead England’s attack?
As England, already qualified for the Euro 2016 finals in France, approach essentially dead-rubber Group E games against Estonia and Lithuania, it appears a unique time to experiment.
While young-gun Dele Alli’s inclusion hints that Roy Hodgson will do just that, Coral writers question whether it is actually the Three Lions’ forward line which needs freshening up?
Of course, it would be churlish to suggest benching England’s now all-time top scorer in Wayne Rooney. The skipper has suffered poor patches of form before and come out all the stronger, meaning he is never to be discounted.
Yet, although the Liverpool-born striker has struck three times in as many of his last matches for England (who are 11/1 from Coral to win Euro 2016), two were penalties and have disguised rather middling outings overall.
For Hodgson, Rooney has, in fairness, proven to be a lethal hitman and regular supplier of goals, but his club form can equally not be ignored. Manchester United have fielded the flexible forward, famously a slow starter domestically, in seven Premier League games but received just a one goal return.
These stats and his poor performances must be a worry to Hodgson, and the England manager should have in mind who could potentially take over the scoring mantle after this summer for the road to Russia 2018, where the Three Lions are 20/1 to win the World Cup.
So with Rooney, at least temporarily, having lost his edge, who else can stake a claim to become leading man in upcoming outings, and perhaps the near future? On recent showings, Theo Walcott certainly seems to have the hunger.
As the speedster impressed for Arsenal with an all-round display, in stark contrast to opposition striker Rooney, who was toothless for travelling United, he looks like finally developing into a real dangerman.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger praised his predator after the Man Utd victory, stating: “Walcott had a hugely committed performance, a very convincing one. He didn’t score but I like to praise the strikers when they don’t score, and contribute and give assists.
“He was involved in two goals and he did really fight. He has shown he can fight, commit and protect the ball as well.”
Two assists and a devilish display full of movement and majesty to torment Red Devils defenders made Walcott look the part, but consistency has always been an issue. Just seven strikes in 41 England outings is far from impressive, though the argument goes that the talented attacker has never had a real run centrally.
A brace against minnows San Marino recently did his claims to Rooney’s throne no harm but, after his recent inspiring antics for Arsenal, now is the time for Walcott to up his game.
Should Hodgson decide to rest Rooney for one of the upcoming clashes, Arsenal’s man of the moment will need to be ready. With Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck yet to return to the Three Lions fold, and both bearing superior records internationally, while Harry Kane still out of sorts for Spurs, Walcott may never get a better chance.