On Saturday, England will begin their first major tournament without Steven Gerrard since the 2002 World Cup.
The Liverpool legend represented the Three Lions in six tournaments and, though his international career will forever be tinged with disappointment, there’s no doubting that England’s squad was improved when Gerrard was included.
The 36-year-old retired from international football in 2014, after England’s dire performance at the World Cup in Brazil, and so thus begins a new era filled with young talents such as Dele Alli and Harry Kane.
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Many are wondering how England will line-up in their European Championship opener against Russia. There is a genuine thought that Roy Hodgson will scrap his plans to play both Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy up front, instead starting Kane up front on his own in a 4-3-3 formation.
Gerrard, per the Telegraph, has given his own opinion on how England should line-up and the ex-Liverpool man thinks Hodgson should select an attacking team.
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Gerrard’s England XI for the game against Russia
Hodgson attempted a diamond in the 1-0 win over Portugal but it was apparent that an attacking trio of Kane, Vardy and Wayne Rooney in the number 10 position wouldn’t work.
Rooney is said to have told Hodgson of his desire to play in a deeper position and, if Gerrard has his way, the England boss will acquiesce to Rooney’s demands.
Explaining his choices, Gerrard said: “In considering a possible line-up for the Russia game I could go through various formations. That is both encouraging and a dilemma, of course, as there is no obvious first choice side. But I also believe that reflects the quality we have.
“If they were 100 per cent I’d have both Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere in my starting eleven, for example, but I’m assuming they’ll need more minutes before they’re at that stage. The longer England can stay in, the more influential those two can be.
“Equally, although I’d start with Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana alongside Harry Kane in a 4-3-3, I’d be just as happy with Ross Barkley and Daniel Sturridge coming into the line-up against Wales or Slovakia.”
England are "blessed" with attacking options
One of those set to play a key role is captain Rooney. Hodgson has been accused of trying to shoehorn the Manchester United man into his team, but Gerrard thinks he would thrive in midfield next to Alli and Eric Dier.
“Although many continue to criticise Wayne Rooney, I would play him in a deeper role,” the LA Galaxy man continued. “For me, there has been too much questioning of Rooney’s position.
“I’ve said before he is judged to a higher standard than most players because he is so good, but he is a matchwinner.
Hodgson included five strikers in his 23-man squad, and Gerrard thinks he is “blessed” to have a plethora of attacking options.
“Vardy is sure to get minutes, but I’d hold him back for now,” Gerrard added. “Marcus Rashford can be a fantastic impact substitute as and when required. I’m not sure when an England manager was blessed with so many attacking options.
“Don’t tell me this is not a good squad. If we use our resources shrewdly, we can go far.”
A whole nation hopes Gerrard is right.