Time for Roy to let Lions loose
England boss must show courage and pick Sturridge and Vardy
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.