FORMER England captain Alan Shearer has urged Roy Hodgson to throw caution to the wind at this month’s World Cup.
Shearer wants Hodgson to field a youthful team instructed to take the fight to the opposition in Brazil, rather than a repeat of the cautious approach that resulted in a quarter-final defeat at Euro 2012. England face Ecuador in their penultimate World Cup warm-up match tonight.
“I hope we get improvement, progression, young guys being given a chance, and players giving their all, and if we’re going to get knocked out then go out with a fight, not with a whimper like two years ago and four years ago,” he said.
“At least go out having a go, and if that happens I don’t think anyone will complain. You can’t attack all the time, but Liverpool got the balance right this year.”
Shearer – speaking yesterday at the launch of Lucozade Sport’s Conditions Zone in Canary Wharf, which simulates the heat and humidity England face in Brazil – believes Hodgson’s youthful attackers, such as Southampton’s Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling of Liverpool and Everton’s Ross Barkley could be key to the vital task of improving the side’s possession game.
“The key, especially in these conditions, will be keeping the ball. We saw what Italy did to England two years ago,” he added, referring to the inglorious Euro 2012 exit.
“Liverpool play that way. Add Lallana and Barkley in there, and why can’t they keep the ball? They should be able to.
“I’d like to see Lallana and Sterling starting. I don’t think Barkley will but he could play a part if we need him to come on and produce a piece of magic.
“There’s a freshness about this squad. There are some new players in there who might come in handy with 25 minutes to go.”
Shearer faced calls to be axed before Euro 96 following a 12-game international barren spell but was retained and ended up top goalscorer at the tournament with five, and believes under-fire Wayne Rooney, while not undroppable, deserves a similar show of faith.
“I would 100 per cent start him against Italy [England’s opening match], and then say ‘It’s up to you’. If you don’t play well your position’s in jeopardy for the next game. Rooney is like that, everyone is,” he said.
“He needs to have belief in his game. I don’t think that’ll be an issue for him, and if he gets off to a good start and scores a goal early on in the tournament, then who knows?
“That’s what happened to me and I finished top scorer, confidence was flowing again.”