England are under serious pressure coming into their Euro 2020 clash with the Czech Republic.
England vs Czech Republic
Although their place in the second round is effectively confirmed, the Three Lions came in for serious criticism on the back of their drab 0-0 draw with Scotland on Friday.
As such, you get the feeling that Gareth Southgate’s men have a lot to answer for when they close out the group stages on Tuesday, but how exactly will they approach the game?
Naturally, it’s impossible to know exactly how Southgate will set up his England side, but that hasn’t stopped fans and pundits alike from putting forward the starting XI they’d choose to play the Czechs.
Manchester City bid £100m for Harry Kane (Football Terrace)
Southgate picks his line-up
And former England international Jamie Carragher is the latest analyst to throw their hat in the ring, declaring his ‘XI to beat Czech Republic’ in his latest column for the Telegraph.
The Liverpool legend wasn’t in the mood for playing it safe either because he made no less than five changes from the team that laboured to a goalless draw with Scotland.
And there are some noticeable absentees with captain Harry Kane being forced to settle for a place on the bench having come in for widespread criticism for his performances at Euro 2020 so far.
Kane on the bench
“If Kane scores, many will say he has ‘proved people wrong’,” Carragher remarked. “Football has evolved beyond the point where a striker’s performance is judged solely on whether he scored.
“It’s the general play for 90 minutes which must be of the highest standard. That is what the top coaches judge. The days when converting a penalty or scoring a tap-in is considered ‘job done’ are long over.
“Kane doing so against the Czech Republic will be no measure of form for the rest of the tournament unless the overall level improves.”
Maguire, Henderson and Walker to start
A bold call, Jamie, but the alterations didn’t end there with the Sky Sports pundit also calling on Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson to be given their shot as they gradually return to fitness.
Carragher opined: “Elsewhere, it makes sense to bring in Harry Maguire to get him up to speed for the rest of the competition. Kyle Walker’s experience was missed against Scotland, and I do not think Reece James did enough to keep him out.
“As well as Kieran Trippier played against Croatia, Luke Shaw is worth persisting with for his attacking threat because England sure to have more possession against the Czechs.
“If Jordan Henderson is not involved on Tuesday, the question will have to be asked whether it made sense to include him in the squad. Give the Liverpool captain an hour alongside Declan Rice and gauge where his level is.”
Grealish gets his chance
So, for those sitting there with their abacus and calculator, that brings us to four changes and the final alteration that Carragher selected will arguably be the most popular: bringing in Jack Grealish.
“Jack Grealish’s time has come,” Carragher added. “I was torn between playing Phil Foden more centrally or sticking with Mason Mount. Mount stays, for me. Sterling has to keep his place.
“England need his raw pace, although it is not ideal switching him from the left to the right.
“I do not understand the clamour for Jadon Sancho to start. Who for? The nation is demanding Grealish, and how can Southgate drop Sterling after everything he has produced for England?
“He has arguably been the best player of the Southgate era. Sancho is yet to replicate his club form for his country in such a way to justify replacing Sterling.”
Carragher’s full XI
There you have it, Carragher wants the following XI to face the Czechs: Jordan Pickford, Walker, Maguire, John Stones, Shaw, Rice, Henderson, Mount, Sterling, Grealish and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Note: Mount is a potential doubt for the Czech Republic clash having been told to isolate along with Ben Chilwell for having come into contact with Billy Gilmour who tested positive for COVID-19.
You certainly can’t accuse Carragher of speaking his mind because it’s easy to imagine many fans taking umbrage with the decision to drop Kane and keep Sancho on the bench.
And although it’s difficult to see a world in which Southgate follows Carragher’s lead, there’s certainly potential for Tuesday’s result to make England fans wish they that he did…