How will this new-look England team get on at Euro 2016?

ESPN's John Brewin spoke to Off The Ball about Roy Hodgson's side and their chances of success at the Euros

BY Cian Roche 09:06 Thursday 31 March 2016, 9:06 31 Mar 2016

Image: Frank Augstein / AP/Press Association Images

What goes up must come down as the old saying goes and after the euphoric heights of coming from two goals down to beat World Champions Germany in their own back garden, Roy Hodgson's men were sent crashing back to reality with a 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands.

The weight of expectation is something all England players experience, but ahead of this summer's European Championships in France, there is a cautious optimism about what this latest generation can achieve.

With the experience of Wayne Rooney still in the ranks, fresh blood like Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane and Dele Alli have cultivated a fearless atmosphere in the camp.

But while there has been an embarrassment of riches in attacking options, it's in defence where England are likely to falter.

"The fall off English teams usually follows the same pattern and it's quite clear where that fall may come; defensively" ESPN's John Brewin told Off The Ball.

"England are not the best defensively and it was he same when they were at the last World Cup. So that is where the fall comes from for me."

"I think Chris Smalling is the first name on the team sheet. When you look at him compared to the rest of the rest of the defenders, he is the only one who's had a consistent run all season.

"A few months back you would have had to say John Stones has to start because he's such a talented player, I think he's started one Everton's last nine games. But he's one of those players who looks confident even if he's short on confidence."

Wayne Rooney has struggled with poor form and injury this season for Manchester United. Image: Martin Rickett / PA Archive/Press Association Images

With question marks over the defensive selections, attention is then turned to attacking line-up with Vardy, Kane and Rooney all in contention to start their first game of the campaign against Russia.

"Russia are a team who pretty defensive game and sit quite deep and there's talk that Rooney could play behind Harry Kane, with Kane leading the line.

"When you look at the form of the season, you would have to say that Kane deserves the starting spot. but on the balance of his career, you'd have to say Wayne Rooney should be allowed to play because he's England's leading goalscorer. In qualifying he was actually very good."

The issue of choosing your best players on merit of their season and not on their England career was raised and whether or not dropping Rooney, the England captain, would be a viable option.

"The last time Rooney had to go into a tournament and prove he was England's first choice player was back in 2004. Maybe the pressure might produce a bit more from him... also he's gone into every tournament I can remember with some sort of injury.

"I imagine Wayne Rooney will start that game against Russia if he's fit and then Hodgson will have to take it from there."



Rob Elliot and James McClean handed starts as Martin O'Neill experiments with squad

19:18 Tuesday 29 March 2016 0 Minute Read

In pictures: Tyrone and Monaghan set up Ulster under-21 final

22:02 Wednesday 30 March 2016 0 Minute Read

John Kavanagh believes Conor McGregor will rectify "cardio issue" ahead of Diaz rematch

07:59 Thursday 31 March 2016 0 Minute Read
Off The Ball


The very best bits of Off The Ball delivered every week