Time for Roy to let Lions loose

Eng­land boss must show courage and pick Stur­ridge and Vardy

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Adrian Back @aidy­back adrian@7days.ae

Whether it was a mo­ment of supreme man­age­rial clar­ity or an act of des­per­a­tion, Roy Hodg­son’s twin sub­sti­tu­tion against Wales proved vi­tal as Daniel Stur­ridge and Jamie Vardy fired Eng­land to vic­tory.

The duo’s ar­rival sparked new life into an at­tack that for a game-and-ahalf had looked largely in­ef­fec­tive.

Now Hodg­son needs to make a bold de­ci­sion. Raheem Sterling - hor­ri­bly out-of-form and low on con­fi­dence - must be dropped.

As should his ul­ti­mate work horse Harry Kane whose legs are fad­ing af­ter two tough sea­sons with barely a break.

But will Hodg­son bite the bul­let and start two strik­ers? De­spite nam­ing five in his squad he has stuck with one up front in the first two games of the tour­na­ment.

That must now change. Against Wales, Mar­cus Rash­ford was also in­tro­duced as Eng­land de­cided that at­tack was the best form of de­fence.

But the young Manch­ester United for­ward has not done enough to earn a start. In­stead Hodg­son must se­lect Stur­ridge and Vardy in a front two.

He can­not go back to his neg­a­tive tac­tics of forc­ing a striker to play out wide. Vardy should be ha­rass­ing Slo­vakia’s de­fend­ers for 90 min­utes, while Stur­ridge should be handed li­cence to drop deeper and in­flu­ence the play. Hodg­son also has the chance to make use of his two at­tack­ing full backs by play­ing nar­row in mid­field. Adam Lal­lana could play be­hind the strik­ers, with Wayne Rooney, Deli Alli and Eric Dier across the mid­dle of the park. That al­lows Eng­land to dom­i­nate in cen­tral ar­eas, while Danny Rose and Kyle Walker can be tasked with pro­vid­ing width. Nei­ther full-back is par­tic­u­larly sound de­fen­sively but both have the abil­ity to sup­port the team go­ing for­ward.

Some may ar­gue that this for­ma­tion may ex­pose Eng­land’s weak de­fence, but hav­ing con­trolled two games and still con­ceded two goals, outscor­ing op­po­nents may well be Hodg­son’s best plan.

With a win se­cur­ing top spot in the group, Eng­land must play to their strengths and be ad­ven­tur­ous. It paid div­i­dends in the thrilling friendly win over Ger­many and would surely do the same against Slo­vakia.

Now is the time for Hodg­son to be both coura­geous and ag­gres­sive. He did it at half-time against Wales, now it’s time to do it from the start to­day in St Eti­enne (11pm UAE).

Come on Roy, give Eng­land fans a rea­son to be op­ti­mistic.

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