England captain and record goalscorer Wayne Rooney is set to start in England’s opening group game against Russia at Euro 2016, according to reports from England’s training base in Chantilly, France. Liverpool’s Adam Lallana makes it while his club-mates Jordan Henderson and Nathaniel Clyne miss out.
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Rooney, despite being England’s top scorer in qualifying, will play in a deeper position as he is set to be part of a midfield trio alongside Dele Alli and Alli’s Spurs team-mate Eric Dier. Lallana will play further forward, complemented by Raheem Sterling on his opposite flank. Both will support Harry Kane up front.
The Mirror wrote citing Dave Kidd in Chantilly as its source that Roy Hodgson, the England manager, has his starting line-up decided ahead of England’s opener against Russia Saturday evening in Marseille. Should it be believed, Hodgson has made a few changes to the last line-up he named.
In England’s friendly win over Portugal this week, Hodgson experimented (persisted) with an attack-minded set-up by playing both Kane and Jamie Vardy. Although none of them could score a goal, England emerged victorious courtesy of a Chris Smalling goal.
Smalling is set to partner Gary Cahill at the heart of the defence flanked by an all-Spurs duo of Kyle Walker and Danny Rose. Walker turned in a man-of-the-match display against Portugal that sealed his place in the eleven ahead of the more defensively sound Clyne.
Goalkeeper Joe Hart seems to be the only certainty in the starting line-up. At 29, Hart is one of England’s senior players given Hodgson’s squad is the tournament’s youngest, and he said: “People are coming off the back of very good seasons but we’re ready and looking forward to it. We’ll see what this young squad can achieve, won’t we?”
The Manchester City keeper won’t be overly worried by derby rival Rooney starting against Russia, as he believes Rooney brings with him a priceless quality: experience. “Wayne is such a key part of squad. He’s accessible to all the players, that’s the way Wayne is,” Hart was quoted as saying by SkySports.
However, the Liverpool duo of Henderson and Clyne won’t be overly enthused either. Clyne turned out to be one of the more consistent performers for Liverpool last season and considering the fact he sealed his England spot after moving to Merseyside, he will be disappointed to not make it to the eleven in Marseille.
Similarly with Henderson, who has long been tipped to provide legs to England’s midfield and now finds himself on the fringes. Whatever they say, midfielders rarely come on when a game needs changing, hence Henderson’s Euros might just be a bit of a dampener if he doesn’t start often.
England’s 4-3-3 setup includes the following players, according to that Mirror report: Hart, Walker, Rose, Cahill, Smalling, Dier, Rooney, Alli, Lallana, Sterling, Kane. Rooney has played behind the striker in the past, but naming him in a role that combines a player’s offensive and defensive responsibility is the masterstroke Hodgson is aiming for this Euros.
Rooney blew hot and cold during his midfield stint with Manchester United last season but has also carved a niche for himself as a future midfield orchestrator. The video below shows exactly why Rooney the midfielder should be feared.
Rooney has recently performed quite well in midfield with some impressive passes. pic.twitter.com/mGem5lJSga
— Judah Davies (@1415football) May 31, 2016
England have a glut of options going forward but whether a midfield containing a striker in Rooney can click is the question. Rooney, for all the trust of Hodgson he retains, is set in stone to start against Russia.
Dier has played as a centre-back for Spurs last season tucking in as a splitting centre-back, but whether he is capable enough to shield England’s back line remains another question. Russia should not possess a world-class attacking threat but considering how England meekly bowed out of the 2014 World Cup, taking chances could prove to be an expensive mistake this time round.
England kick start their Euro 2016 campaign against Russia at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille tomorrow evening. Whether Hodgson names the same line-up as reported remains to be seen, so does the result of the game. England only managed a 1-1 draw against France in Donestsk in their Euro 2012 opener.