With just under a month to go until England boss Roy Hodgson announces his squad for this summer’s Euro 2016 tournament in France, the race for places is hotting up.
Does England captain Wayne Rooney – a shadow of his former self at Manchester United this time around – deserve a place on the plane or will the new guard of Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane be sufficient striking prowess for Hodgson?
England are currently around 12/1 in the EURO betting to win the tournament so the hopes of the nation – and punters across the country – rest on the gaffer getting things right.
The pundits all have their views and with Andy Carroll’s superb hat-trick against Arsenal last weekend throwing another option into the mix, there’s certainly plenty to talk about.
Less of a dilemma is the choice of which three goalkeepers to take.
England number one Joe Hart has just returned from injury and has shown some superb form for Manchester City in the last fortnight with two excellent performances against French champions Paris St Germain in the Champions League.
It’s a given he’ll start between the sticks. Of the back-ups, Jack Butland’s injury in the friendly against Germany has secured Fraser Forster’s place as understudy while Burnley captain Tom Heaton looks favourite to claim the third berth in the squad, albeit without having pulled on the Three Lions shirt at senior level yet.
In defence, the back four that started in the superb 3-2 win in Berlin over Germany last month looks to be the best fit with Nathaniel Clyne and Danny Rose in the wide defensive positions alongside Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill at the heart.
The midfield berths are all still a little up in the air, especially given the injury to Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson who has appeared to be a Hodgson favourite in the engine room.
Two players who will have definitely staked their claims are Spurs’ Dele Ali and Eric Dier. The pair, who have been in fine form for title-chasing Tottenham all season, have transferred those performances to the national team and look set to be part of a new dawn at international level.
Everton’s Ross Barkley has the kind of magic in his boots to scare anyone while Adam Lallana’s Liverpool form certainly looks more settled now after enduring a disappointing start to life at Anfield.
That just leaves the spaces up top and if Rooney does join Vardy and Kane in the squad – which is highly likely given Hodgson isn’t prone to dropping his captain – then that leaves a scramble for the other two places that will likely be allocated to strikers.
Dannys Welbeck and Sturridge got the nod for the recent friendlies but if Carroll can keep up his performances as West Ham chase a first Champions League spot then that could make the decision making process a little more difficult for the England boss.
Who would you take to France if you were England boss? Tweet us at @MM_newsonline using the hashtag #MMEuroSquad.
Image courtesy of football.ua and Clément Bucco-Lechat, both via Wikipedia, with thanks