WORLD OF SPORT: Get rid of Rooney or face early Euros Brexit

It won't happen, but England's best chance of lighting up the Euros is to leave Wayne Rooney out of their starting line-up.

Saturday, 11th June 2016, 7:00 am
Wayne Rooney should be axed.

In fact I’d find a reason to send Rooney on holiday with Coleen and the kids for the next three weeks, just to avoid the temptation of throwing him into the fray.

I usually avoid friendly football internationals with a passion normally reserved for ladies cricket matches, but there have been a couple of informative England warm-up games recently.

The sheer joy, enterprise and attacking flair shown in the 3-2 win in Germany was in complete contrast to the dire, slow-witted display against Portugal when England struggled to break down 10 men until converting a late set-piece.

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England should build the team around Dele Alli.

Portugal are a one-man team like Wales. That one man didn’t even play against England. Rooney played against Portugal, but was substituted before England scored, after missing the Germany game completely.

I don’t agree with comments suggesting England’s defence is the main worry ahead of the Euros.

Coach Roy Hodgson has limited options at the back. He’s perming two out of three flawed centre-backs and two out-out-of four average full-backs. Joe Hart is a good bet to be England’s player-of-thetournament.

But England can still make an impact in this tournament if Hodgson utilises his front men effectively. And by ‘impact’ I don’t mean drawing their way into the last eight before losing on penalties.

England should build the team around Dele Alli.

Rooney’s presence slows England’s passing tempo down. Rooney’s presence means other players, who are now superior to the worn-out Manchester United man, like Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, have to be moved away from their best positions.

Experience seems to be Rooney’s sole attribute at the highest level now, but he’s also a reminder of a dismal past in the biggest tournaments and Hodgson now needs to break the habit of a lifetime and make bold, brave decisions.

England will definitely have to score twice to win games in France. They might even need to score three.

That means using players who have shown top form, great invention and intelligence, and an ability to score goals, all season rather than the likes of Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson.

They also need to be fitter than Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge.

This England team should be built around Dele Alli. He’s been the best English player in the Premier League all season and a major reason why Kane won the league’s ‘Golden Boot’.

Sadly I don’t believe Hodgson will be able to ditch his cautious approach. He will play it safe, straight down the middle in the hope that his team does enough to earn their coach a new contract.

The way the Euros are structured it’s nearly impossible to be knocked out in the group stages. Winning with style is far more difficult, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.