Today saw Roy Hodgson announce his eagerly anticipated final 23-man squad for England’s Euro 2016 campaign.
— England (@England) May 31, 2016
The biggest talking-point is of course the inclusion of 18 year-old Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford. Rashford’s inclusion is at the cost of Andros Townsend and Danny Drinkwater. Many assumed Rashford would make way when the larger 26-man squad was cut to 23. However, after his goal and man-of-the-match performance versus Australia on Friday, Hodgson could hardly drop the teenager. With this in mind it was expected, if Rashford was to make the plane then it would be down to Townsend, Drinkwater, Sturridge or Barkley to join Fabian Delph watching from home.
Disappointed not to make the final 23! Would of been a fantastic experience to go to the euros as a player… But I’ll be supporting the country like I always have! The seasons been a huge positive for me.. Going into next season as a premier league champion! Good luck to the lads… Bring it home 🙌🏼 #england
Trevor Sinclair speaking on BBC Radio 5 live:
“Danny Drinkwater has had such a good season. I feel he deserved to be in the squad. He’s the unluckiest player to miss out on this selection.”
“With five strikers in the team, having Wayne Rooney in the squad will now be for a three-man midfield or as a more defensive role.”
“Andros Townsend finished the season strongly, Raheem Sterling did not. But we know what Sterling can do at international level.”
Whilst Hodgson will protest the squad numbers are meaningless and his starting-11 versus Russia in Marseille on 11th June is yet to be decided, they do give us a good indication of his plans.
The goalkeeper position wasn’t in contention and therefore, 1, 13 and 23 are not a surprise for Hart, Forster and Heaton respectively.
The first indication of Hodgson’s plans comes from the players he’s handed the no.2 and no.3 shirts to. In the recent past since Gary Neville and Ashely Cole stopped playing for England the full-back positions have not been nailed down. Tottenham’s Kyle Walker and Danny Rose have been given numbers 2 and 3 respectively and therefore, look set to start versus Russia. Despite not knowing Hodgson’s plans at fullback, it was believed that Clyne was first choice at right-back, as he’d been for most of the qualifying campaign. Clyne has been handed no.12, whilst his former Southampton teammate Ryan Bertrand no.21.
No surprises with the remainder of the defence with the expected to start centre-backs, Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling beeing given numbers 5 and 6 with John Stones wearing no.16.
The midfield has some relatively interesting choices however if we are to read into the squad numbers. Liverpool and England ever-present James Milner has been handed no.4. Whilst some will argue this is because of his seniority in a relatively inexperienced squad, no.4 is usually reserved for a starting central (usually defensive) midfielder. In the past two games where Hodgson has started what is his considered his best available team (Germany and Turkey), Tottenham’s Eric Dier has worn no.4. Dier has been considered as nailed on as it gets in England’s starting 11; a player willing to sit back and do the combative thankless duty in defensive midfield. However, Dier has been given no.17.
Fellow central midfielders Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere were previously expected to be Hodgson’s favoured players in that position. However, they’ve been handed numbers 14 and 18 respectively. You can argue Henderson has simply chosen his favoured shirt number – the number he wears for Liverpool. However, Wilshere’s higher than expected squad number surely indicates he is no longer first choice in central midfield following another injury blighted campaign. Wilshere has started the previous two friendly’s to improve his match-sharpness, wearing numbers 7 and 8. Furthermore, at the last World Cup when Wilshere was first-choice, he wore no.7.
The no.7 shirt has been handed to a Hodgson favourite, Raheem Sterling, despite an extremely indifferent first season with Manchester City. Similarly, 8 has gone to Adam Lallana – another Hodgson favourite – often deployed on the wing for England. Therefore, it’s expected these two will be handed their chances versus Russia on the flanks.
England all-time record scorer and captain, Wayne Rooney is unsurprisingly no.10. Whether he is a starter or on the bench, plays upfront or in midfield, he was always going to rightly retain his favoured squad number. Fellow striker and Premier League top scorer this year, Harry Kane has been handed no.9 and expected to lead the line for England this summer. Justifiably, Jamie Vardy has been handed no.11 following a record breaking season with Leicester and some recent impressive performances with England.
Teenage Dele Alli – similar to Eric Dier – following a ground-breaking season with Tottenham was expected to be one of the first on the team-sheet. However, has been handed a larger squad number than expected: no.20. Again, like Henderson, this may be Alli’s preferred squad number (his shirt number for Tottenham), however, does raise questions as to whether he’ll start versus Russia now. Doubts crept in towards the end of the season of Alli’s temperament, following some bad tackles, on-pitch arguments and an FA ban he received for punching a West Brom opponent; maybe Hodgson has his worries too?
Daniel Sturridge (no.15), Ross Barkley (no.19) and surprise inclusion Marcus Rashford (no.22) make up the rest of the squad.
If we are to take these squad numbers as an indication of Hodgson’s plans, his starting-11 would look like this:
Versus Russia I’d personally start like this:
What does your England vs Russia starting line-up look like? Comment below