Football

Roy Hodgson's five strangest decisions in England's win over Slovenia

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Wayne Rooney scored his 48th international goal to seal an unconvincing victory in Slovenia. The captain's goal and two sensational strikes by Jack Wilshere ensured England went the whole season unbeaten for the first time since 1990/91. 

However do not get carried away, this was an incredibly shaky victory. The performance was riddled with defensive errors and lacked a cutting edge in attack. This was a game that England can ultimately feel lucky to have taken three points from.

While a number of players didn't play to the best of their ability the manager once again made a number of questionable decisions. Here are his five strangest.

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PHIL JONES AT RIGHT-BACK

Slovenia must have been happy when they looked at the team sheet and saw Jones at right-back rather than Nathaniel Clyne.

The decision to play Jones at full back was a surprising one, especially when you consider that he often under performs in what is supposed to be his favoured position of centre back. He may be better defensively but a full-back needs to produce some quality in attack as well.

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As far as going forward Clyne was the better option in every respect, he offers more pace, better ball control and a far better delivery from crosses. So just why did Hodgson decide to play the United man at right-back?

Nathaniel Clyne has been one of the best right-backs in the country over the last year yet he only came on in the 85 minute. It seems like Hodgson being overcautious once again, something that has plagued his time managing England.

HENDERSON AT RIGHT-BACK?

When Phil Jones went off injured at half-time Nathaniel Clyne was the obvious choice to replace him at right-back. Strangely it was Jordan Henderson who slotted in at right-back when the second half kicked off. Jordan Henderson the centre midfielder.

The Liverpool man struggled in the unfamiliar position during the second half. It was another bad call by Hodgson as he effectively weakened both England's midfield and the defense in one fell swoop. Henderson is clearly not a right-back so why in the world was he asked to play the position?

England's defence looked shakier in the second-half after the bizarre change. It was panic stations when Clyne was thrown on in the 85 minute but perhaps some of England's problems could have been avoided if Hodgson had simply brought him on at half-time.

GIBBS OVER BERTRAND

Hodgson seems reluctant to give Ryan Bertrand much of a chance in an England shirt. He was a late call up to Hodgson's last England squad and this time around only played in the dour draw with the Republic of Ireland.

Bertrand has clearly been the best English left-back in the league over the last season but Hodgson does not show enough faith in the Southampton man. Instead Kieran Gibbs was preferred at left-back.

The same Kieran Gibbs who has been struggling to get in the Arsenal squad of late. It's not fair to be fielding players who have not been getting game time for their clubs over players who have performed consistently over the course of the season.

Gibbs did not cover himself in glory during the game and was too easily beaten to the header that Slovenia equalised from in the 84 minute. Another bad call in defence by Hodgson.

STICKING WITH STERLING

Raheem Sterling put in a lacklustre performance against the Irish and it was clear that his head was not on it, however Hodgson selected him again for this Euro qualifier.

The want away Liverpool man was virtually non-existent during the game displaying for the second consecutive fixture that he's not worth the sorts of price tags that are being talked about. Sterling clearly wasn't in the right frame of mind to play either of these games but Hodgson remained defiant.

However Hodgson's 'loyalty' is rapidly becoming damaging to England. He clearly trusts Sterling to do a job for him but there was little evidence of him doing it in either game.

His performance was summed up when he squandered a great opportunity in the first-half, lifting a shot over the bar from inside the penalty area. Until he sorts himself out he shouldn't be getting in the squad let alone the starting line-up

OVERLOOKING CHARLIE AUSTIN

The QPR striker must be wondering what he has to do to win himself an England cap. If 18 Premier League goals is not enough then what is?

To call up the forward and not give him so much as a cameo appearance in either game is nothing short of a travesty. It seems Hodgson would never think to play two strikers at the same time. With the team trailing at half-time bringing on Austin would have been a positive move, but the England managers cautiousness got the better of him once again.

It was a shame that we didn't get to see the second highest scoring Englishman in the Premier League get some game time. Austin deserved to play in at least one of the two games after an excellent season at a struggling team.

Hodgson can talk about players getting the 'experience' of being in the squad but ultimately the real experience is out on the pitch and Austin can consider himself to have been robbed of it on this occasion. 

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Topics:
Football
England Football
Internationals

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