WAYNE ROONEY, ENGLAND’S CAPTAIN and top scorer of all time, is out of action with a knee injury for a possible six weeks. Would it be preposterous to suggest that this is actually a good thing for England’s chances in Euro 2016?
When Rooney returns from injury for Manchester United he will not have long left to get to full match sharpness before the Euros, let alone hit the kind of form that he used to display. In fact this form has eluded him for much of the season, and the devastating striker of old seems to be past his best. Roy Hodgson has always said that Rooney will be the first on the team sheet, but it could be time for him to step aside and make way for the new crop of English talent.
England now have an exciting line-up full of fresh young talent, and players who have been enjoying spectacular form in the Premier League this season. Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane are two of the frontrunners in the race to claim the golden boot, with Vardy alone being one of the reasons why Leicester are 3/1 at the time of writing for the title the Premier League betting. Vardy’s overwhelming pace and ability to blast his way through a defence, combined with Kane’s passion and shoot-on-site philosophy could be a winning formula for England.
Just behind them would sit Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli, two of the brightest young talents England has produced in years. Alli has been playing in the number ten role for Tottenham Hotspur this season, and his attacking output has been on a par with Christian Eriksen. Sterling hasn’t enjoyed the same kind of form but has shown glimmers of brilliance and his finishing is improving.
Eric Dier and Danny Drinkwater are making very strong cases for controlling the centre of the park. Both have been absolutely pivotal to their sides’ strong performances this season, and the Spurs and Leicester connection could be key here. Drinkwater has already helped to set up some amazing goals for Vardy to put away in the league and there is no reason he won’t replicate this for England.
At the back, Ryan Bertrand and Nathaniel Clyne will take the full-back positions, providing pace down the flanks. Gary Cahill will take the captaincy role accompanied by Chris Smalling, and Joe Hart is the obvious choice between the sticks, although he may face competition from Fraser Forster.
Of course, this is purely speculation. England managers traditionally don’t like to take too many risks and believe experience is key. Rooney probably will play, which means there would have to be a reshuffling of the pack, pushing out the likes of Vardy or Alli. But after 50 years without a trophy, maybe it’s time England threw caution to the wind, and went out all guns blazing with an exciting crop of hungry young players like these. Sorry, Rooney, but it’s time for you to stand down.