Swanny’s World of Sport: The fun is already over for some

France's Olivier Giroud (left) and England's John Stones shake hands after the international friendly match at Wembley.
France's Olivier Giroud (left) and England's John Stones shake hands after the international friendly match at Wembley.
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The biggest problems facing the 2016 Euros is the qualification process will prove to be far more exciting than the actual finals.

Letting 23 countries join hosts France at the final stages led to plenty of drama and nail-biting action towards the end of the group stages and into the play-offs.

But 24 teams at the finals will lead to a competition that will compete with the rugby world cup for the most tedious sporting event of recent years.

For the likes of Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland the fun is already over. They have celebrated wildly by coming through the easiest qualification competition in sporting history and good luck to them.

They will doubtless ignore the fact the likes of no-hopers Albania, Austria and Iceland also qualified from a process designed to let the minnows have their day in the sun.

Qualification isn’t really that much of an achievement. Finishing second or third in groups of five or six is no big deal, although Scottish fans drowning their sorrows when all their neighbours are abroad next summer might disagree.

And instead of every game of the Euros Finals having significance as in previous tournaments, a fortnight wil l be wasted shedding the dross from the tournament.

In fact Wales needn’t bother travelling at all if Gareth Bale isn’t fit. It really would be a waste of everyone’s time.

Luckily for hopeless England manager Roy Hodgson, additional teams at a major finals is a good thing. It increases England’s chances of progressing from a group which appears to be all Hodgson needs to do to guarantee staying in his job until he’s 80.

But England blundered by arranging a friendly in Spain last week. All the hype and goodwill they built up while winning 10 out of 10 of their qualifying group matches evaporated in 90 desperate minutes.

Hodgson is a tactician from the dark ages. Teams who prefer to pull 11 men behind the ball and catch teams on the break don’t win anything these days.

But that’s how England played against Spain. Hodgson’s team played with more fear than you’d find at a halloween party. Did he seriously think dogged defence and Raheem Sterling’s pace would unsettle a top nation?

England have so little chance of winning the Euros I hope that Hodgson just throws the likes of Dele Alli, John Stones, Eric Dier and Ross Barkley into his starting line-up and sticks with them.

These young guns should also just be told to play with freedom and flair.

Far better that the inevitable failure is a glorious one. The potential was obvious in a game against a distracted French team on Tuesday.

The experience the youngsters would gather from the Euros would stand them in good stead for the qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup when England will hopefully have a more dynamic manager in charge.