Roy’s Experimentation with hungry young lions


The England camp is brimming with confidence at the moment after the Three Lions thumped Lithuania 4-0 on Friday and stretching their post World Cup winning run to seven matches.

Now they turn their attention to Italy where tougher tests await them. Roy Hodgson will be without four key players – Danny Welbeck, Raheem Sterling, James Milner and Leighton Baines – all missing the tie through injury.

On the flip side, it presents Hodgson with an opportunity to experiment with fringe players in Turin on Tuesday. The Azzurri will also be missing few key players (Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi) and are in the middle of a crisis after coach Antonio Conte has received death threats from angry Juventus fans who blame him for Claudio Marchisio to break down with a serious knee injury. 

“The real test against tougher opposition will be when the qualifying campaign is over,” the 67-year-old said, as quoted by The Guardian.

“When the qualifying campaign ends – we believe we’ll be qualified in October – then we have two very important friendlies in November, two important friendlies in March, certainly in May.

“Hopefully we’ll get really quality opposition to play us in those matches which will really put us seriously to the test. There are a number of players who quite seriously believe they should be in the team and none of them will be in Italy.

“Italy and Ireland [in June] will be to some extent experimental and a chance to break in to what we think is our best XI.”

Hodgson can still count on a group of talented young players who are determined and hungry to prove a point. Most of these players have had enjoyed a relatively good campaign for their clubs and are eager to make an impact at the international levels.


In defence, Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is likely to get a chance. The 25-year-old has endured a stop-start season, and with his contract set to expire next summer, his future has come under intense speculations.

The former Fulham defender is attracting interest from Arsenal, although recent reports suggest that United will resist all temptations and keep him at the club.

Smalling has made 22 appearances this season for the Red Devils, including 18 starts and has made marked improvements under Louis van Gaal. He has developed a strong defensive partnership with Phil Jones for United, and the duo would be looking to replicate the same for their nation as well.

Harry Kane has enjoyed a phenomenal season for Spurs, scoring 29 goals so far. He scored on his international debut on Friday and all eyes will be on him how he fares against an well organised and strong Italian defence.

In the attacking midfield, Hodgson will probably look to Ross Barkley, Andros Townsend and Theo Walcott to deliver, but none of them have impressed this season for their respective clubs.

The spotlight will be on Arsenal winger Walcott, who once again finds himself in the middle of a contract wrangle with his club.

The England winger made his debut in 2006 but has only managed 37 games in eight years. Blessed with abundance of talent, recurrent injuries have had a wretched impact on his career, but he still has time on his hands to re-shape his international career.

Competitions for places are increasing in the midfield and attack, and it is up to the players now to step up and make a noteworthy impression.

These group of exciting yet fringe players are desperate to kick start their international career, and for once, Hodgson would love to have a selection headache, should his experiment turns out to be successful on Tuesday.

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