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Roy Hodgson has named his 26-man provisional squad for the Euro 2016 Championships (via the BBC), and fans around the country are now discussing which of those 26 players will make up the manager’s starting XI. We’ve all got our opinions, but does Hodgson already know what his starting XI is going to look like?
In this piece we’ll be discussing who we think will start for England this summer, who should start, and why.
The 26-man squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley).
Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool).
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Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Andros Townsend (Newcastle United), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).
Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).
Three of these players will be dropped before the tournament begins, but we can safely say that the starting XI will be picked from this group.
As far as goalkeepers are concerned, it’s obviously between Joe Hart and Fraser Forster. Many believe that the Southampton man should take Hart’s place this summer, and while you can definitely argue that he’s been better than the Man City man at times, it’s hard to see Joe Hart being dropped.
There are a couple of question marks over the defence, with the full-back choices and John Stones’ place in the side a divisive topic.
Then it gets really tricky though, with a huge number of midfield and forward combinations available and every fan having their own opinion.
Here’s how we think England should line up at the Euros this summer:
GK) Joe Hart
Fraser Forster is arguably the better keeper, but Hart now has a huge amount of international experience under his belt. It certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing if he were to be replaced, but it’s hard to see that happening.
RB) Nathaniel Clyne
Kyle Walker has his positives, but he is a real liability at times. Clyne has been solid for both Liverpool and England, and should get the nod ahead of the Tottenham man.
LB) Danny Rose
Again, Ryan Bertrand is perhaps the better left-back. However, Rose has been excellent for England in his recent outings, and unless something drastic changes then the Southampton star should miss out.
CB) Chris Smalling
This one is a bit of a no-brainer, as the Manchester United man really is England’s best centre-back.
CB) Gary Cahill
Who will partner Smalling is a little more controversial, with many calling for the young John Stones to be given the chance. He still really lacks experience though, and for the moment it still seems like Cahill is the better option.
DM) Eric Dier
Dier has been excellent in midfield for Tottenham this season, protecting the back four well. England have lacked a quality defensive midfielder for years, and in all honesty Dier should make the team purely because there are no other options.
CM) Jack Wilshere
The 24-year-old has obviously spent most of the season injured, only making his first start against Aston Villa on the final day of the season. He’s been such a massive player for England though, that it would be crazy for him to be left out. England are a far better side with him in it, and if he’s even close to being fully fit, then his inclusion shouldn’t be in doubt.
CAM) Dele Alli
For some reason many fans are calling for Alli to play as part of a midfield pair, despite the fact that he’s played essentially as a No.10 for Tottenham all season. He hasn’t been a central midfielder, he’s been in behind Harry Kane and (annoyingly) flourishing. If he does start for England – which he should – then it should be as a No.10.
RAM) Raheem Sterling
This is the one position that is really up for grabs, with Danny Welbeck’s injury leaving it wide open. The options aren’t exactly fantastic, but it seems like Hodgson has to choose between Raheem Sterling, James Milner, Adam Lallana, and Andros Townsend.
LAM) Jamie Vardy
While Vardy is best suited to a pure striker’s role, his work-rate and pace means he’s perfectly capable of performing on the wing as well. He puts tackles in and harasses his opponents, as well as offering a phenomenal goal threat too.
ST) Harry Kane
There are plenty of options up front, but Harry Kane is unquestionably the best of them. The likes of Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney are both options, but Kane offers more than any of them.
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This is how the team would look:
While this is certainly our choice for the starting XI, it’s hard to see this being the team that Hodgson selects. We’ve obviously left out England captain Wayne Rooney, and despite the Manchester United man arguably being past it, it seems unlikely that he’ll be left out of the team.
This is really one of England’s best chances to perform at a major tournament, but Hodgson needs to make sure he takes advantage.