We’ll soon know England’s final 23 ahead of this summer’s European Championships and it’s likely that one of Roy Hodgson’s initial strikers will fail to make the cut. With Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford in top form, Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge are returning to full fitness and it’s going to be a tough call.
Wayne Rooney may be England’s all-time leading goal scorer but it’s felt that Hodgson will follow Manchester United’s lead and play the skipper behind the main front man. That would leave a straight choice between Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy for the main centre forward role.
Of those two, Kane has five goals in 11 England appearances and seems more adept at carrying his club form through onto the international stage. Vardy would therefore be used as an impact sub – a role he carried out to perfection against Germany as he came off the bench to fire the equaliser in March’s friendly.
If there are any certainties in this squad then surely those three names – Rooney, Kane and Vardy – will be among the first to be inked in when Hodgson’s final squad is announced.
So if we assume that the first three strikers are settled and confirmed then the manager has to decide on his fourth choice and judging by international experience, that choice would usually be a very straightforward one.
Liverpool centre forward Sturridge blossomed into an England international on joining the Anfield club after a stop-start career with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City. However, a catalogue of injuries over the last two seasons have seen the 26 year old fall behind in the pecking order and some would say it’s a gamble taking a player of his fragility across to France for the tournament.
However, you can’t overlook an overall scoring record of 43 goals in 69 appearances for his current side and in the 2015-16 season alone, despite a late start to the campaign, Sturridge still managed to record 13 strikes in 25 games in all competitions.
Sturridge would be a certainty for most but we know how much Hodgson likes to promote youth. Would any previous England manager have been brave enough to award Dele Alli his first full cap at the age of just 19?
However, the Liverpool man may just have passed his injury jinx over to his younger rival. Rashford joined up with the squad for the friendly against Turkey having picked up a knee injury in the FA Cup Final and that could put the seal on the manager’s decision.
That game, where England won 2-1, could have given us the insight into Hodgson’s thinking and it may just have confused the favoured theory. Rooney was absent, having played in that same FA Cup Final just 24 hours earlier, so the manager chose Kane and Vardy as a front pairing.
Both men scored in that 2-1 victory so just how will Hodgson play it? It seems unthinkable that the leading scorer in the country’s history will be left out but many suggest that we should be playing the form men.
Meanwhile, the question as to who travels with the squad as fourth striker is still unanswered. Roy Hodgson is likely to have made his mind up already but his decisions will be the key to any success England may have when the tournament starts on June 10.