When England take on Holland at Wembley tonight, all eyes will be on three players, who have got a big point to prove. Roy Hodgson, the England manager, was happy with his side’s 3-2 victory against Germany last week and felt his young England team can make a big impression in the European Championship finals this summer.
The England manager is likely to field a completely different side to that one that won against Germany, and few players will be eager to make a strong impression on Tuesday night.
Chelsea were so impressed with Stones that they tried to sign him last summer three times. All their bids were rejected. This season, Stones hasn’t been at his best, and he is hardly England’s strong option either. A very good defender on the ball, but his cavalier approach often proves to be too risky for his team.
Most importantly, Hodgson has enough options in the centre-back department. Manchester United’s Chris Smalling and Chelsea’s Gary Cahill both have enjoyed a good domestic campaign, while Stone’s club team-mate Phil Jagielka is very much on Hodgson’s plans.
The Liverpool star is arguably one of the finest strikers in the country, but recurrent injury problems have been his biggest nemesis. It’s hard to believe that for a player of his calibre, who was one of the positives from an otherwise dull World Cup campaign in 2014 for England, he has just scored five goals for his country in only 16 games, spread over five years!
Pace, strength, ability to find the right player, good dribbling skill and great finishing ability are some of Sturridge’s major strengths. But can he remain injury free remains to be seen. Jurgen Klopp has used him sensibly for Liverpool, and he has started to deliver for his club again. Now for the country he must do the same.
The Arsenal forward has dropped down the pecking orders and needs to produce a strong performance to convince his manager to pick him for the Euros. Hodgson has enough options with him. Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – all can play in the same position. Walcott has been around for ages, but he hasn’t yet managed to claim a regular spot for his country. He has scored only eight goals in 42 appearances for his country, and those goals include a hat-trick as well.
Possible England starting line up against Holland:
Forster, Walker, Stones, Jagielka, Rose, Walcott, Drinkwater, Milner, Vardy, Barkley, Sturridge
Possible Holland starting line up against England
Vorm, Willems, Blind, Van Dijk, Veltman, Wijnaldum, Clasie, Bazoer, Depay, Huntelaar, Promes