After showing such promise in qualifying and friendlies prior to Euro 2016, England ultimately failed to deliver when it mattered most.
Roy Hodgson’s men dominated from start to finish against Russia at the Stade Velodrome and when Eric Dier found the back of the net with a powerful free-kick, it seemed a deserved three points had been secured.
That wasn’t to be the case, though, as Russia dug deep to score a last-minute equaliser.
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Cue disappointment as Wayne Rooney and co saw a ninth consecutive European Championship opener pass without victory.
Criticism has since been fired at the likes of Raheem Sterling for his underwhelming display in Marseille, but it would seem England’s senior figures are more concerned by another youngster’s performance.
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According to The Sun, Roy Hodgson has been told to drop Harry Kane against Wales on Thursday after the Tottenham striker looked sapped of energy two days ago.
Indeed, the 22-year-old was far from his usual self against the Russians and found goalscoring opportunities hard to come by.
England’s experienced members have instead urged Hodgson to opt for Jamie Vardy in the lone striker role.
The Leicester City man was controversially left on the bench against Russia, even despite England’s coaching staff warning Hodgson that Kane looked tired at the hour mark and needed replacing.
Hodgson decided against introducing Vardy and perhaps paid the price, instead bringing on Jack Wilshere for Rooney and James Milner for Sterling to help see out the game.
His decision to withdraw captain Rooney drew particular scrutiny in the aftermath of Saturday night’s clash, but Hodgson has defended the move.
He said, per Sky Sports: “I thought [Rooney] had a good game, but was tiring.
“Quite a lot of players out there were tiring because, although it wasn’t baking hot, there was quite a humid atmosphere which saps the strength of the players.
“We just thought, with the control we had in the game and Wilshere on the bench, we could have the luxury of taking Wayne off the field and that Jack would do a similar job.
“I think that’s exactly what happened.
“Always afterwards you can look and think ‘Could we have used more subs? Could we have done a bit more?’ But we didn’t honestly believe we were in great difficulties during that time and we thought we’d see the game out 1-0.
“If anything, we replaced Raheem Sterling, who had worked very hard, with James Milner with a view perhaps to seeing the game out, but were unlucky to concede the late goal.”
England’s highly-antipated clash with Wales on Thursday kicks off at 2:00pm.
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