Roy Hodgson will find room for Harry Kane and Dele Alli in his England team to place Russia on 11 June
We’re already pretty clear on the England squad that Roy Hodgson will select for the European Championships this summer, with Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson set to snap up the midfield places at the expense of Fabian Delph and Danny Drinkwater.
However, out of the twenty-three players that get on the plane, only eleven can start the opening match against Russia on Saturday 11 June. This Group B encounter takes place at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, with Hodgson wanting his team to get off on the right footing and lay the foundations for a comfortable qualification.
It is clear that we should expect a similar team to the one that lined up in Berlin on 26 March as England came from two goals down to win 3-2 against Germany.
On that evening, Hodgson went for a 4-3-3 formation that crunches back into a 4-5-1 set-up when England don’t have the ball, with Harry Kane the foremost attacking player and that trend is set to continue.
So here is the bookies.com England XI to start v Russia:
GK: Joe Hart – the Manchester City keeper is back from injury and nailed-on.
RB: Nathaniel Clyne – the Liverpool man is ahead of Kyle Walker and offers that little bit more nous going forward.
CB: Gary Cahill – not a great season for the player or his club Chelsea, although he has experience of playing in big tournaments.
CB: Chris Smalling – strong at the back for Manchester United all term and certain to partner Cahill barring injury.
LB: Danny Rose – Rose started both of England’s recent matches against Germany and the Netherlands, with his season in a Tottenham shirt giving him the nod over Ryan Bertrand.
M: Dele Alli – an outstanding season in a Tottenham shirt and he’s practically become the first name on the team-sheet. Defends well and attacks even better, scoring some cracking goals.
M: Jack Wilshere – if he’s fit, he plays. Wilshere won’t be a popular choice ahead of Danny Drinkwater although Hodgson loves the Arsenal player more than the paparazzi do.
M: Eric Dier – the Tottenham man can hold the fort while Alli and Wilshere rove forward in support of the attacking players. Solid and dependable for Spurs all season.
A: Raheem Sterling – Lallana played in both friendly matches against Germany and the Netherlands, although Sterling might edge him out thanks to his lightning pace.
A: Harry Kane – can’t be left out after the season he has had for Tottenham Hotspur. He has scored at a rate of knots since October and illustrated against Germany that he can score goals against any calibre of opposition in an England shirt.
A: Jamie Vardy – it might have been Danny Welbeck but the winger’s injury means that Vardy could instead be asked to operate on the left flank and his pace should cause problems for a Russian defence not accustomed to such a direct player.
Wayne Rooney – the captain will have a role to play but the fact that he’s a poor defender with no pace means he’s an impact player to start with
Adam Lallana – classy midfielder who can replace tired legs and link up with other attacking players
James Milner – hard-working midfielder who could be especially important in the last twenty minutes of the game
Daniel Sturridge – two years ago, he had the attacking role at the World Cup. Injuries have played their part although someone teeming with class
Ross Barkley – a hit and miss season for Everton, although the young scouser remains a talented prospect who has temporarily been leapfrogged by Dele Alli in this England team