As Roy Hodgson’s plans solidify in the coming days over who will make his Euro 2016 squad, I hope he stays open-minded about the ‘right’ number of forwards to take to France for this summer’s tournament.
The England coach might be expected to limit his allocation to five in the final 23, as others have before and he has too with his party for the friendlies against Germany on Saturday and Holland on Tuesday.
But I’d like to see him take six. With Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck likely to be picked, captain Wayne Rooney’s return would otherwise leave Theo Walcott and Jamie Vardy battling for one spot.
Vardy is yet to replicate his Leicester goalscoring heroics in three England appearances but he has to go to the finals. His brilliant club form has earned it, while his edgy, fidgety style is a nuisance to defenders and something other players don’t offer.
Walcott would perhaps be the most at risk of missing out because of his indifferent season with Arsenal, yet he does well for his country and can also be used on the wing.
I firmly believe the priority has to be picking your best players, and if that means taking six forwards and one fewer midfielder, so be it. I would leave out Adam Lallana, who doesn’t offer enough. I’d also drop his Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson, who has not had a good year, if more sacrifices were needed to make room for Raheem Sterling. At international level Rooney could certainly play in midfield, so he could cover if needed.
One of England’s strengths is their variety of attacking players, which means Hodgson could realistically alternate his favoured 4-2-3-1 with a 4-3-3 or even a 4-4-2.
But whichever formation he chooses, Kane has done enough in the last three months to demonstrate that he should start.
Taking on the captaincy at Tottenham has seen him add leadership to his game, while he seems to be spending more time in the penalty area and less drifting wide into the channels. He talks of breaking Alan Shearer’s scoring records, so that tells you how focused he is.
I’d like Hodgson to try Kane alongside Sturridge. Lone strikers can get isolated in international football but having two up front helps to minimise the risk of being snuffed out.
I think Kane and Sturridge have the intellectual and technical qualities to dovetail well, as Shearer himself used to do with Teddy Sheringham – a partnership dubbed the SAS – for England under Terry Venables.