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Hodgson’s Euro 2016 headache: Who will make England XI v Russia?

Holly Thackeray | February 3, 2016

In-form England stars ahead of Euro 2016

As Roy Hodgson continues his preparations for England’s upcoming Euro 2016 campaign, he must surely have a headache; as his Three Lions disciples keep jostling for squad spots with superb performances.

The England manager has an abundance of in-form Englishmen to pick from. Will he put his faith in youth as Coral have already considered? Stick with the old guard? Or take a gamble on plucky underdogs?

With this in mind, and following some excellent showings from ambitious Englishmen in the Premier League, Coral contemplate England’s potential starting XI in their Euro 2016 opener against Russia, complete with a cracking odds market.

Agree or disagree? Let us know!

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Joe Hart

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Manchester City’s heroic goalie Hart is the undisputed England number one, with only an ill-timed injury likely to prevent the odds-on 1/25 starter from turning out to defend his rearguard from Russian attacks.

Excellent Jack Butland has done all he can to push for the gloves, while Southampton stopper Fraser Forster is back to fitness, with the post protectors both priced as 10/1 outsiders.

Watch Hart’s recent super save v West Ham United:

Right back: Nathaniel Clyne

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It is a toss up between Liverpool’s Clyne (2/5), who rampages for the Reds but looks much quieter for the Three Lions, and Spurs star Kyle Walker (4/1). However, Clyne has had the nod in four of the last six internationals, increasing his odds.

Centre back: Chris Smalling

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group E - England v Estonia - Wembley Stadium
Manchester United centre half Smalling has been an absolute revelation over the past season-and-a-half, forcing his way into becoming a Three Lions regular. Injuries permitting there is no disputing the defender’s place, with his dominating and imposing outings crucial to any England tournament chances.

We hope we haven’t now jinxed this beastly and bullish centre back, one of the most in-form across Europe, who is 1/4 to turn out against Russia.

Centre back: Gary Cahill

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group E - England v Estonia - Wembley Stadium
Hodgson is known for his loyalty to those who have served him well, and may just stick by Cahill (2/5) despite doubts over his Chelsea future.

Cahill’s case is helped by Phil Jagielka’s injury-interrupted campaign, his successful showings alongside Smalling in qualifying and John Stones’ recent slip-ups. Hodgson may just balk at throwing skillful Stones into the deep end, with his passing proving risky for Everton at the moment, though the youngster (10/11) could still turn it around.

Left back: Leighton Baines

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group E - England v Lithuania - Wembley Stadium
Man Utd have been boosted by news that Luke Shaw could return from his long injury lay-off as soon as March, but that may still be too soon for the talented youngster (12/1) to go to France.

In that case, Baines (2/5) is Hodgson’s best option to provide width down the left flank, as he is in fine vintage with two assists in eight Premier League games and has regularly torn apart opposition this term. Underrated Aaron Cresswell (25/1) and Ryan Bertrand (3/1) are unlikely to get a look-in.

Central midfield: Jordan Henderson

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A Hodgson favourite, Liverpool skipper Henderson (1/3) had an immediate impact for the Reds upon his return from the sidelines and will be aiming to inspire England from the middle of the park in France. The question is not whether he starts, but who partners this box-to-box Lion?

Central midfield: Dele Alli

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The spot next to bustler Henderson is perhaps the most open, with all of James Milner (9/4), Fabian Delph (6/1), soon-to-return Jack Wilshere (5/1) and even Eric Dier (6/4) and Jonjo Shelvey (10/1) competing.

Yet, Alli’s seamless transition to Spurs’ starting XI and England set-up has seen him rocket to an odds-on 8/11. On current form, he is the Three Lions’ best midfielder, having proven he can add guile from deep and also spring attacks, with his cracker of a long-range strike also adding to his locker chock full of skill.

Hodgson could see the teenager as another risk, but England need to go for Russia’s jugular from the off if they are to avoid repeating the mistakes from Brazil. Alli would undeniably provide an edge.

Take a look at what Alli could add:

Right wing/forward: Jamie Vardy

Soccer - UEFA European Championship Qualifying - Group E - Lithuania v England - LFF Stadium
Not his usual or preferred position, but Vardy (3/1) has proven he can play wide. As Premier League top scorer (and the Englishman with the highest tally) at the time of writing it would be criminal to overlook the lethal Leicester City forward, whose regular goals have helped propel the Foxes into title contention.

A new contract is apparently in the offing, and the attacker would also add hard graft and magic movement. Hodgson is a fan of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (12/1), but he faces greater challenges for game time at Arsenal.

Left wing/forward: Raheem Sterling

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The man to unlock Russia’s rearguard with a moment of magic is surely Sterling, which is reflected by the England regular’s 1/3 odds. His much maligned move from Merseyside to Man City has paid dividends with five league goals and two assists so far. A wide berth is certainly Sterling’s to lose.

Support striker: Wayne Rooney

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It is tough to see all-time top England scorer Rooney being dropped so close to the France finals and, in fairness he has been Mr Reliable for Hodgson.

The captain is 1/5 to start, having hit five international goals in eight across 2015 and struck against the Russians before. A revival for the Red Devils, with seven in his last seven at club level signalling a resurgence just at the right time, can only help. Unfortunately, this may mean Ross Barkley (11/1) misses out, as he has looked much more effective behind a striker this season.

Centre forward: Harry Kane

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group E - England v Switzerland - Wembley Stadium
Four goals in five across all competitions for Spurs has Kane back in contention to lead the line after a slow start to the season.

Hodgson always kept faith in his hitman, however, and the current joint-second Premier League top scorer should get the chance at 2/7 to start. It would seem complacent to leave the most promising Three Lions forward on the bench against unpredictable opposition; as a super sub he would be wasted.

Remind yourself of Kane’s first Three Lions goal:

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