As England trudged down the Lens tunnel at half-time, booed off by angry England fans who couldn’t believe they trailed a toothless Welsh side, something finally clicked with Roy Hodgson. Historically, England managers experience revelations in tournaments far too late, but not this time. Hodgson is on the cusp of discovering one of England’s strongest ever tournament line-ups, he’s just one more change away.
England fans will be pleased to see the back of Raheem Sterling, who has surely offered his last pitiful contribution to Euro 2016. After persistently running down cul-de-sacs and displaying the same level of delicacy in his touch as a child playing jenga wearing oven mitts, it’s almost surprising it took Roy as long as it did to remove Sterling from the line-up.
But let’s not criticise Hodgson’s delay in acting on Sterling’s incompetence, what’s important is that the change was made, thankfully before it was too late. Staring disaster in the face, Roy went against all of his conservative instincts and finally rolled the dice. Roy just needs to see the light once more and England could have a serious shot at European glory.
With the abysmal Sterling and exhausted Kane removed from the line-up in favour of the in-form Sturridge and Vardy, Hodgson should now look to make a change to his midfield trio – Dele Alli needs to make way for his Arsenal rival, Jack Wilshere.
Wilshere replaced Wayne Rooney as a second half substitute in England’s opening game against Russia, which ended in a 1-1 draw after a late Russian equaliser. Despite the disappointing result, Wilshere provided an immediate influence on the England midfield, sparking a sharp passing move that almost produced a goal.
Dele Alli, like Kane, has looked weary in England’s two opening fixtures and would benefit from some time on the sidelines. Wilshere had not played for England for 12 months going into the tournament, after missing nearly the entire Premier League season through injury, though the Arsenal man appears to be sharp and hasn’t lost any of his ability to unlock defences.
Former Arsenal star Paul Merson has urged England manager Roy Hodgson to drop Tottenham’s Dele Alli and turn to Gunners midfielder Jack Wilshere instead. Importantly, Merson believes that the 20-year-old’s strengths aren’t right to break down teams that plan to sit deep and defend, whereas Wilshere provides a higher level of intricacy to England’s attack:
“Dele Alli had a quiet game and his game is all about making those runs from deep into space that just isn’t there against teams that drop off and defend,
“I’d play Wilshere. He has that little bit of guile about him to pick a pass and unlock a tight back four.”
Jack Wilshere would provide the incisive final pass that England need to unlock a stacked backline, with Vardy, Sturridge and the impressive Adam Lallana leading a potent attack. Roy Hodgson appears to have finally stumbled upon a balanced England side, with the addition of the currently missing ingredient Jack Wilshere, England boast one of the strongest sides in the tournament and stand a real chance at tournament success.