Roy Hodgson’s forward decisions could define England fortunes
Simon Sinclair | May 13, 2016
England boss Roy Hodgson faces key decisions in the upcoming weeks to decipher a formation that will guide his side to success at Euro 2016.
The Three Lions have three matches before their campaign in France begins on June 11th against Russia, with a positive start needed to eradicate memories of the disastrous 2014 World Cup.
Hodgson’s men are 9/1 changes with Coral to emerge victorious at Euro 2016, and for once there are reasons why England fans can dream.
Kane and Alli the key to success
Harry Kane has enjoyed another outstanding season for Tottenham, although his heroics have not been enough to guide his side to their first Premier League title.
The 22-year-old has become the superstar of White Hart Kane, scoring some truly remarkable goals, none more so than his strike against Arsenal in the North London derby.
His predatory instincts in and around the box make him a threat every time he receives the ball, with his movement and build crucial to his success.
Kane has translated his form into the international arena by notching four goals in 10 appearances, including the first of England’s comeback against Germany in March.
The only question remains whether he will be able to continue his rise in a major international tournament, where Three Lions’ strikers have struggled in the past 10 years.
He is backed at 14/1 to be the leading scorer at the tournament, which would stand Hodgson and his men in good stead of their hopes of glory.
One benefit will be the relationship Kane shares with Dele Alli, who has been equally sensational for Spurs this term. The two have formed a good chemistry in the final third, which often yields goals out of very little.
Alli has to play in the same role for England as he does for Mauricio Pochettino’s men in behind his teammate. The 20-year-old has scored 10 goals and added a further nine assists to the cause.
His suspension at the end of the campaign should see him well rested ahead of the Euros so burnout after a hectic season in the Premier League may not be an issue for the midfielder.
For once England have two exciting young players leading their charge for the crown, but will the duo have enough support around them.
Vardy and Rooney selection issues
Jamie Vardy has enjoyed an equally good season as Kane, leading Leicester City to an incredible Premier League triumph.
The striker has been at the top of his game throughout the campaign, notching 24 goals in the top flight in an impressive partnership with Riyad Mahrez.
He has been clinical in the final third with neat finishes in and around the box, and sensational strikes of his own, with his brilliant volley against Liverpool.
Vardy announced himself on the international stage with a fine back-heel to bring England level against Germany before netting his second strike in the narrow defeat to the Netherlands.
The 28-year-old operated with Shinji Okazaki playing just behind him with the Foxes this term to great success.
His main threat was using his pace to get in behind opposing defences, which may prove difficult to accommodate considering Tottenham’s approach of playing through the midfield, where their potent strikeforce thrived.
One of the problems Hodgson faces is how the forward will link-up with Kane and Alli in a formation to bring the best out of all three players.
He could play them all in a three-pronged attack, but that will leave Vardy and Alli in unfamiliar positions outside on the wings.
Danny Welbeck’s injury has opened up the possibility of that system, but the Three Lions boss also has to consider where Wayne Rooney will fit into the fold.
The England captain has endured the worst season of his career as he has struggled to find a consistent position in the Manchester United team, moving around from up front to the midfield.
Rooney’s goals were crucial in sending his side to the tournament, while it would also be an unprecedented move to discard the skipper ahead of the campaign.
Coral have not totally given up on the 30-year-old, backing him at 5/1 to end the tournament as England’s top scorer, although it could be beyond the forward at this stage of his career.
Hodgson will have to begrudgingly admit that there may not be a place for his skipper in the starting lineup, even without the likes of Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge to consider.
The 68-year-old could go with a diamond midfield with Alli behind a strikeforce of Kane and Vardy, which would provide allow the trio to thrive and also bring solidity at the back.
A change in formation at this stage of proceedings would be considered a strange move, but in order to accommodate the players in form it may have to be done.
Sterling has been a steady performer for England and many expected him to kick on following his £50m move to Manchester City this season from Liverpool.
However, he has failed to hit his peak form for the Citizens, while an injury in the second half of the campaign allowed Hodgson to see the benefits of playing Kane, Alli and Vardy.
The 21-year-old may be forced into a role as a substitute at best, which could work out well for the Three Lions considering his pace down the flank.
Likewise Sturridge will have to accept a spot on the sidelines at the start as injuries derailed his season, although should Vardy misfire or show signs of fatigue following a long campaign his prowess in front of goal would be a huge asset.
Hodgson will name his squad on Monday and players that will have hope beyond hope that they have done enough to secure a place in light of Welbeck’s injury are Jermain Defoe, Andy Carroll, Marcus Rashford and Theo Walcott.
Defoe has been Sunderland’s saviour with 15 goals in the Premier League, keeping the club in the top flight.
Carroll is another player that has been blighted by injury problems, although his form at the end of the campaign with six strikes in his last nine could give him a glimmer of hope.
Walcott was a shock inclusion in Sven-Goran Eriksson’s World Cup squad 10 years ago, while it would not be as stunning to see him including this time around it would be a surprise.
The 27-year-old offers an outlet down the flank, but has flattered to deceive on too many occasions for Arsenal and England to be considered a viable option to work within this England side.