POSSESSION is the key area in which England must improve, so I was happy to see Roy Hodgson adopt an ability-over-age policy in selecting his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova, tonight, and Ukraine.
Sometimes we discard older players too readily but the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Michael Carrick have a composure that comes from experience and is needed for that evolution in play.
Where I do worry, however, is in an area that Hodgson can do little about: the chronic shortage of striking talent. Wayne Rooney is injured, and if Danny Welbeck were to pick up a knock in training England would be left with just Jermain Defoe and Daniel Sturridge. Welbeck himself is not even a first choice at club level.
Gone are the days of Lineker and Beardsley or Shearer and Sheringham. Hodgson lacks a dynamic centre-forward that can not only bring out the best in Rooney but also score at a prolific rate – and it is a big problem.
English clubs’ appetite for recruiting the best foreign striking talent has taken its toll. Not many lads of the right quality are coming through, and some that are good haven’t stepped up.
Darren Bent is not in the squad and, while there is a case for him when there are injuries and it’s a one-off game, I think he is too one-dimensional for England to build a team pattern around.
Andy Carroll, on the other hand, I am a fan of. When fit, I can see him play with two wide men and Rooney at the front of a midfield diamond. England can build around Carroll while still increasing possession; the key is improving the players’ movement and awareness of space.
Trevor Steven is a former England winger who played at two World Cups and two European Championships.