Anyone who has watched England knows that, against teams with the ability to keep the ball, they struggle to maintain possession.

In the last friendly, against the Germany B team, the Three Lions had only 45% possession.

Against Chile, it was a similar story as Roy Hodgson's side only managed 43%. Going back to the 2012 European Championship quarter-final against Italy, and England managed a paltry 37% possession.

On the one hand to win football games it's the scoreline that counts, not possession, so there is no point in keeping the ball for its own sake.

On the other hand though, if you want to create meaningful chances and not run yourself into the ground it's important to keep the ball for at least some extended periods of time. That way you can test the fitness of the other team.

Keeping the ball will be especially crucial in the humid climbs of Manaus, where Hodgson's side play their first World Cup game against Italy. If England spend 90 minutes chasing the ball in what is essentially a rainforest, the consequences will not be pretty.

Not only will it be unlikely that England get a result, therefore making qualification very tricky, but also it could leave the players physically exhausted for the crunch game against Uruguay five days later.

So how can England keep the ball better?

A big part of this is picking the right personnel. This is where Jonjo Shelvey should come into the reckoning. Playing at Swansea City, the midfielder is now that rarest of English players - one that plays as the creative outlet of his team.

Sitting in midfield in-front of Jonathan de Guzman and Jose Canas, Shelvey is the player that looks to link up the forwards with the defence.

Additionally, Swansea's footballing style is all about getting the ball down and keeping possession. The 21-year-old therefore, has been working on keeping the ball for his team all season. This is just the skill that England need.

This is not to say that Shelvey is perfect. At times he does the hard things well but then struggles to perform the simple things. Still, England aren't packed full of options.

Shelvey's ability to receive and distribute the ball under pressure is one that should earn him a spot on the plane to Brazil.

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Topics:
#Swansea City
#Jonjo Shelvey
#World Cup
#England Football
#Football