England's Netherlands defeat confirms who should and shouldn't start at Euro 2016

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Brought back down to earth with a resounding thud - that's how England manager Roy Hodgson will have felt after his side fell to a disappointing home defeat to the Netherlands just three days after beating world champions Germany.

The Netherlands' historical pedigree may be impressive, but the current crop of players are amongst the poorest in recent memory, suggested by their inability to qualify for this summer's European Championships.

They finished behind Iceland, Turkey and the Czech Republic in Group A, suggesting England would have been quietly confident of securing a result heading into Tuesday night's game at Wembley, yet a much-changed side from the Germany victory could not even secure a draw as they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat.


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On the face of it, this looks like a poor result - perhaps even a waste of time - but if anything, Hodgson may have actually learned more in defeat than he ever could have in the win against Germany.

Against Joachim Low’s side on Saturday, Hodgson learned what most of us already knew: England really are a good side on their day and perhaps better than we given them credit for.

The England boss started with what looked like his strongest available team against Die Mannschaft and it turned out to be just that, but against the Netherlands, against whom Hodgson fielded fringe players, his experiment failed.

Those trying to break into the team mostly failed to impress, with all of Daniel Sturridge, John Stones and James Milner failing to make their mark on the game.

Danny Drinkwater and Ross Barkley had solid games but the only players who put in performances worthy of note were those who impressed against Germany: Adam Lallana, Chris Smalling and Jamie Vardy.

So what does all of this mean? Could Hodgson be almost settled on his final starting XI as early as late March? Perhaps so.

England have three more friendlies coming up before the start of the Euros, against Turkey, Australia and Portugal. Though the England boss will tinker with his side in these three fixtures, by this point he will have a good idea of who will start in France.

Tuesday's loss also suggested Wayne Rooney may yet have a significant role to play this summer. Whilst no one missed the Manchester United forward against Germany, he could have added another dimension to an England attack that struggled for incision against the Dutch.

Jamie Vardy's movement proved decisive in his goal, yet he struggled to carve any further opportunities for himself, whilst Sturridge was largely anonymous and Harry Kane didn't make the desired impact upon his introduction from the bench. 

What Hodgson will also have discovered is that Everton’s John Stones is too error prone and inexperienced to be trusted with a starting role at a major competition.

The youngster is a classy centre-back, as proved by his tendancy to play the ball out from the back, yet Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill are without a doubt the more dependable and solid options at centre-back.

Stones has a long and illustrious international career ahead of him, but he needs to thoroughly iron out the errors in his game - something that will come with age and further experience.

So, whilst the Netherlands clash may have ended in defeat, Hodgson will point to the loss as a game in which he learned a lot more about the overall strength of his squad and whom appears more able to tackle Europe's big guns in France.

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Wayne Rooney
Steven Gerrard
Manchester United
England Football
Premier League
David Beckham

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