Jonathan Wilson's Euro 2016 England Squad: No Place For Three Lions Skipper From Lithuania


There’s an awful lot, of course, can change between now and next  May when Roy Hodgson will name his squad for Euro 2016. Players can come into form and drift out of form and there will be injuries. Andros Townsend, for instance, was a key player in England’s two final World Cup qualifiers yet when he succumbed to an ankle injury six months later, ruling him out of the finals, it was by no means certain he’d have made the squad.

Nonetheless, Roy Hodgson must be beginning to formulate a squad in his mind. That’s why he took what was essentially an experimental group to Lithuania on Monday, and it will inform his selections for the friendlies against Spain and France in November and against Germany next March.

Hodgson himself has made clear that it’s not as simple as picking three goalkeepers and then two players for each position; he needs a squad that will get on well together and offer a variety of options. Still, it seems likely his basic shape will be a 4-3-3, so the make up of the squad is likely to be three goalkeepers, four full-backs, four centre-backs, six midfielders and six forwards, with the proviso that some of the forwards and midfielders can cover for each other. 

The goalkeeping situation is relatively simple. Joe Hart will be the number one, with Jack Butland and Tom Heaton as back-up. Fraser Forster would probably have gone as a reserve but he will be out for the rest of the season with his broken knee cap.

Nathaniel Clyne has emerged as the first-choice right-back, with Kyle Walker as the reserve, although there may be a temptation to fiddle an extra space there in the knowledge that Phil Jones and John Stones can cover on the right. If fit Luke Shaw would presumably be the first-choice left-back, but that is perhaps unlikely as he recovers from a double fracture of the leg, leaving Leighton Baines (if fit), Kieran Gibbs and Ryan Bertrand to battle it out for the other two slots.

On present form, Chris Smalling and John Stones are certainties at centre-back, while experience will probably earn Gary Cahill a place. Phil Jones, meanwhile, offers versatility, able to cover not only at full-back but also at the back of midfield. That’s hard on Phil Jagielka, who hasn’t done much wrong and was captain in Lithuania, and would almost certainly be the next option if one of those other four is injured.

Michael Carrick remains the best holding player in England, but his injury record is so poor there have to be serious doubts as to whether he will be available – although if he is, he does offer in extremis cover at centre-back. Jack Wilshere, also injury-plagued, has operated in that role as have James Milner and Jonjo Shelvey.

Milner gets in anyway as a shuttling player alongside the anchor and could play at right-back if the worst came to the worst. Assuming Jordan Henderson and Fabian Delph get over their injuries, they come in as reliable, hard-working players who can give England the solidity they lacked at the World Cup.

Hodgson clearly gets frustrated with Ross Barkley and his tendency to give the ball away, but the Everton man’s performances against Estonia and Lithuania showed the class of which he is capable. The big doubt, though, is whether he can fit in a 4-3-3 against high-class opposition – and given England are likely to try to play on the break, sitting seven behind the ball and using the pace of the front three, there’s no obvious place for him in a starting XI. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the more conservative option, and has the advantage of being able to play as a wide forward as well, scoring from that position in Vilnius.

The forward line is even more fraught. It’s hard to see how Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane can both fit in a 4-3-3, unless the captain is prepared to play wide, something he’s made pretty clear he no longer enjoys. Then there’s the issue of Daniel Sturridge, who can drift in from the flank, but also prefers that central role.

Raheem Sterling is a certainty, and Danny Welbeck’s capacity to score goals from wide areas means that he will surely go if fit. Theo Walcott, who can also play wide or centrally, has started to look a bona fide forward and took his goal neatly against Estonia, which probably means no room for Jamie Vardy, for all his goals at Premier League level, and despite his part in the second goal against Estonia.

There’s an awful lot, of course, can change between now and next  May when Roy Hodgson will name his squad for Euro 2016. Players can come into form and drift out of form and there will be injuries. Andros Townsend, for instance, was a key player in England’s two final World Cup qualifiers yet when he succumbed to an ankle injury six months later, ruling him out of the finals, it was by no means certain he’d have made the squad.

Nevertheless, Roy Hodgson must be beginning to formulate a squad in his mind. That’s why he took what was essentially an experimental group to Lithuania on Monday, and it will inform his selections for the friendlies against Spain and France in November and against Germany next March.

Hodgson himself has made clear that it’s not as simple as picking three goalkeepers and then two players for each position; he needs a squad that will get on well together and offer a variety of options. Still, it seems likely his basic shape will be a 4-3-3, so the make up of the squad is likely to be three goalkeepers, four full-backs, four centre-backs, six midfielders and six forwards, with the proviso that some of the forwards and midfielders can cover for each other.

The goalkeeping situation is relatively simple. Joe Hart will be the number one, with Jack Butland and Tom Heaton as back-up. Fraser Forster would probably have gone as a reserve but he will be out for the rest of the season with his broken knee cap.

Nathaniel Clyne has emerged as the first-choice right-back, with Kyle Walker as the reserve, although there may be a temptation to fiddle an extra space there in the knowledge that Phil Jones and John Stones can cover on the right. If fit Luke Shaw would presumably be the first-choice left-back, but that is perhaps unlikely as he recovers from a double fracture of the leg, leaving Leighton Baines (if fit), Kieran Gibbs and Ryan Bertrand to battle it out for the other two slots.

On present form, Chris Smalling and John Stones are certainties at centre-back, while experience will probably earn Gary Cahill a place. Phil Jones, meanwhile, offers versatility, able to cover not only at full-back but also at the back of midfield. That’s hard on Phil Jagielka, who hasn’t done much wrong and was captain in Lithuania, and would almost certainly be the next option if one of those other four is injured.

Michael Carrick remains the best holding player in England, but his injury record is so poor there have to be serious doubts as to whether he will be available – although if he is, he does offer in extremis cover at centre-back. Jack Wilshere, also injury-plagued, has operated in that role as have James Milner and Jonjo Shelvey.

Milner gets in anyway as a shuttling player alongside the anchor and could play at right-back if the worst came to the worst. Assuming Jordan Henderson and Fabian Delph get over their injuries, they come in as reliable, hard-working players who can give England the solidity they lacked at the World Cup.

Hodgson clearly gets frustrated with Ross Barkley and his tendency to give the ball away, but the Everton man’s performances against Estonia and Lithuania showed the class of which he is capable. The big doubt, though, is whether he can fit in a 4-3-3 against high-class opposition – and given England are likely to try to play on the break, sitting seven behind the ball and using the pace of the front three, there’s no obvious place for him in a starting XI. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the more conservative option, and has the advantage of being able to play as a wide forward as well, scoring from that position in Vilnius.

The forward line is even more fraught. It’s hard to see how Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane can both fit in a 4-3-3, unless the captain is prepared to play wide, something he’s made pretty clear he no longer enjoys. Then there’s the issue of Daniel Sturridge, who can drift in from the flank, but also prefers that central role.

Raheem Sterling is a certainty, and Danny Welbeck’s capacity to score goals from wide areas means that he will surely go if fit. Theo Walcott, who can also play wide or centrally, has started to look a bona fide forward and took his goal neatly against Estonia, which probably means no room for Jamie Vardy, for all his goals at Premier League level, and despite his part in the second goal against Estonia.

  

SQUAD                                               STANDBY

Joe Hart                                              Fraser Forster

Jack Butland

Tom Heaton

 

Nathaniel Clyne                                 Kyle Walker

Ryan Bertrand                                   Leighton Baines

Kieran Gibbs

 

Chris Smalling                                    Phil Jagielka

John Stones

Gary Cahill

Phil Jones

 

Michael Carrick                                 Jonjo Shelvey

Jack Wilshere                                     Adam Lallana

James Milner                                     

Jordan Henderson

Fabian Delph

Ross Barkley

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

 

Wayne Rooney                                  Jamie Vardy

Harry Kane

Daniel Sturridge

Theo Walcott

Danny Welbeck

Raheem Sterling