Hodgson may use friendlies to experiment
England boss Roy Hodgson may learn a lot about the 23-man squad he is set to take to France for Euro 2016 following his side’s upcoming friendlies against world champions Germany and the Netherlands.
Some of the fringe players in the current England squad are likely to have the opportunity to impress during the ties against top-class opposition. With the Premier League reaching the final stages, Hodgson could choose to field two different teams to avoid arguments with several Premier League managers who will be keen for their players not to be burnt out.
Hodgson will most definitely know the majority of the players he wants to take to the European Championship in the summer but there will be a handful that he is undecided about. After the games against Germany and the Netherlands, England will face Turkey and Australia in May and then the squad for Euro 2016 will be announced.
One change Hodgson will be forced to make against Germany is his goalkeeper. Joe Hart is out of action after going off injured in the Manchester derby so Stoke’s Jack Butland is likely to get the opportunity to shine in the England goal. Butland has been impressive for the Potters this season and has been unfortunate to find himself behind Hart in the pecking order for the national team.
Full-backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker have both been rewarded for their performances for Tottenham this season and could start together for the Germany or Netherlands game. There is a lot of competition for those two spots ahead of the Euro 2016 opener against Russia as Liverpool’s Nathaniel Clyne and Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand will be pushing to be the first choice in their respective positions. Meanwhile, Manchester United’s Luke Shaw, could make a late push for a place in the squad and starting XI if he can get some game time under his belt following his long-term injury.
In midfield there is even more competition as Hodgson has a lot of choices. Dele Alli has been one of the players of the season in the Premier League and Ross Barkley is arguably England’s most exciting player in the current squad. The likes of Jordan Henderson and James Milner can also provide defensive cover if Hodgson chooses to play a balanced midfield.
Harry Kane has recently become only the fifth English player in Premier League history to score 20 goals in the league campaign in back-to-back seasons. The Tottenham forward has been in great form recently and he is 8/1 to score the opener against Germany but it will be worth weighing up the benefits of the first goal scorer market against the anytime goal scorer market (2/1).
The big question Hodgson may be pondering ahead of Euro 2016 is where does he play his captain, Wayne Rooney? With Kane in hot form for Spurs, he may have to play the Manchester United man in behind Kane if he does not want to opt for two forwards.