England boss Roy Hodgson claims squad selection is clear hint Three Lions will go on attack at Euro 2016

Ross McLean
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England Training Session
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England boss Roy Hodgson admits the composition of his squad is a clear indication that the Three Lions will go on the attack at the European Championship in France, which starts next week.

Hodgson has selected five strikers in his 23-man party for the tournament, including teenage Manchester United frontman Marcus Rashford, who made the cut ahead of Leicester’s Premier League title-winning midfielder Danny Drinkwater.

There are only three recognised centre-halves amongst the squad – Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill and John Stones – although Hodgson, often portrayed as a conservative tactician, does not believe his side will be exposed defensively.

“We’ve got balance,” said Hodgson. “If anything, the balance does tilt towards attackers and offensive midfielders. That was a conscious decision. That’s where we think our strength lies.

“We believe defending is very much a team job and we can’t just rely on a back four and a goalkeeper. We need great mobility and great running power to defend in that way. With this squad they’ve got that ability.

“Often in a tournament the players that get injured or suffer a lack of form are the guys at the cutting edge, the guys who make the difference or score the goals.”

Hodgson has been widely criticised for axing Drinkwater. Former England captain Alan Shearer accused Hodgson of selecting the likes Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere on “reputation rather than form”.

“It was a very difficult decision,” added Hodgson. “For a long period of time, if anything, we haven’t had an enormous amount of choice. Sometimes there have been comments that we don’t have enough to pick from.

“Suddenly, we do have a lot of players to pick from and it was a very tough decision for me.

“It simply became a question of do I take the extra attacker or midfielder? That’s how Rashford came about. The front players, apart from Harry Kane – we wouldn’t want to move him from a central position – can do the job wide in midfield.

“I’m happy I’ve got so many good players to put on the field.”

England face Portugal at Wembley on Thursday in their final warm-up clash before the start of the tournament. While Hodgson has promised a strong side, he stopped short of saying his starting XI will be the one which lines up against Russia in Marseille on 11 June.

“I don’t need to try anything out any more but I’m not prepared to say the XI who start will start against Russia,” said the 68-year-old. “I don’t want to commit myself to a team agains Russia in 10 days’ time.

“If you take out Marcus Rashford, who is a new boy on the block, there is nobody’s game I don’t know extremely well. I know the players and I know what they can be.”