We're just a few weeks away from the European Championships in France this summer, and the tournament will be a platform for the latest England talent to shine and prove themselves where the past players have failed.
For the first time since Euro ’96, England have real potential with the squad they have. Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Danny Drinkwater are amongst the new faces in the England set up, and they have all shined in the Premier League this season.
Vardy and Drinkwater lifted the Premier League trophy against all odds with the rest of the Leicester City team, whilst Kane, Alli and Dier helped Tottenham Hotspur mount a real challenge for the title, only falling short a few weeks from the end of the season.
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Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford has also staked a claim for a starting position in the competition. He has scored big goals against Arsenal, Manchester City and West Ham United to give the fans a few moments of joy this season.
This batch of players, along with the likes of Joe Hart, Daniel Sturridge, and the returning regulars of Jordan Henderson, captain Wayne Rooney and Chris Smalling, have a good chance to cause a real upset in this tournament.
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However, it seems Roy Hodgson is making the same mistakes that he made at the 2014 World Cup, and the calamities his predecessors made time and time again.
The Same Old Story
The similar pattern that seems to occur at every tournament for England is happening all over again. Managers are picking some players on form but others on name.
Players who have performed for other clubs this season such as West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell and Mark Noble, Sunderland’s goalscoring hero, Jermaine Defoe and Crystal Palace’s tricky winger, Wilfried Zaha should have been in the England manager’s provisional squad based on their form.
Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard could even have cause to argue for his inclusion in Hodgson’s plans after his fine performances in the last few months.
But sadly, they have been overlooked. It seems form isn’t enough for some, and that names from previous tournaments have been selected because that’s the way things are done in football sometimes.
Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling and Chelsea’s Gary Cahill have been selected despite a string of poor performances for their clubs this season, whilst the biggest surprise inclusion has to be Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, who has made only three senior appearances this season for the north London side. Or perhaps Fabian Delph, who has only two goals to his name all season and no assists!
Wayne Rooney is another name who has not had a sparkling season but his inclusion is a formality because he currently holds the captain's armband and the most goals for England.
Time For Change
Hodgson needs to seriously look at his options this summer when selecting his starting XI. England fans are used to seeing the same old faces and in return, seeing the same old performances that see England fail to reach their potential.
He must look at players on form and play the best of the bunch, not the best from previous tournaments.
If players like Wilshere, Sterling and Delph start games despite their lack of first team action, it is going to cause England as a whole a real issue and the repeats of falling short like the ‘golden era’ of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand is likely to be the outcome.
Do the right thing, Roy.
What would be your England XI for Euro 2016? Let us know YOUR preferred selection in the comment section below!