A rare day without a Vale news story gives us a chance to look ahead to Euro 2016 and examine Roy Hodgson’s striking options.
While the final 23 for Euro 2016 has now been confirmed, manager Roy Hodgson is left with plenty of questions as his squad heads to France. Strikers and their goals win matches so just how will England line up for their tournament opener against Russia?
Accommodating a legend
The biggest issue seems to hang over Wayne Rooney and his place in the side. The Manchester United forward is the country’s all-time leading scorer but injuries across the 2015-16 campaign have seen Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy take their chances.
Will Hodgson keep his captain in his preferred position as a main striker?
Will Hodgson keep his captain in his preferred position as a main striker or will he look to the policy at Old Trafford where Rooney has played in a much deeper role? The stats seem to back up the latter option with the player recording six assists in the season – more than anyone else in the United team. Can Wayne Rooney serve his country in the best possible way by supplying the bullets for someone else to fire? If so, who does Roy choose to lead the line?
A straight choice?
If the manager chooses to go with a lone striker when England’s tournament begins on June 11, it would seem to be a straight choice between Kane and Vardy. For much of the 2015-16 season, the two men were battling for the Premier League Golden Boot and it’s great for the country to have them in such good form heading into the Euros.
Of the two, Harry Kane would seem to be the man in possession and with five goals in 11 full international appearances, his record is marginally better. Hodgson will doubtless have noted Vardy’s impact on the side when he came off the bench in March’s 3-2 win over World Champions Germany and that may be another indication that the Leicester man will be used mainly as a substitute to target tired opposition legs.
Along for the ride?
We all know that Roy Hodgson likes to promote youth but it was a surprise nevertheless to see Marcus Rashford make the plane. Perhaps the injury concerns over Daniel Sturridge forced the manager’s hand or maybe – if you’re being less cynical – it was that dream debut that saw the 18 year old open the scoring against Australia.
Whatever your view might be, Rashford is in the squad so how will Hodgson use him – if at all? The Rooney, Vardy, Kane trio look to be the first names on the sheet so the teenager will have to be content with a place on the bench at best but having scored on his club and international debuts, you can be certain that the manager won’t be afraid to throw Marcus Rashford into the fray.
The debate surrounding Sturridge is more complicated, simply because of the player’s chronic injury record. While the striker was leading the line alongside Luis Suarez at Anfield, it seemed certain he would be a first choice for the foreseeable future but many see his inclusion in the final 23 as something of a gamble.