England: Hodgson must strike the right balance up top

29May 2013



Ahead of the Three Lions' friendly double-header Christian Crowther suggests Hodgson places his faith in a new partnership or change formation...


International friendlies may be the nemesis of entertainment but that's no concern of an England manager, with vital World Cup qualifiers on the horizon.


For Roy Hodgson it represents a rare chance to amalgamate all his many weeks of pondering and put into practice his vision of the team going forward towards those critical autumn qualifiers.


In order to forge an identity for this England team ahead of a World Cup season Hodgson must settle on a preferred strike force.


Admittedly, this is not any easy choice for Hodgson given the similarity of many of his forward options, but in light of Andy Carroll's withdrawal through injury his decision is made somewhat easier. The timing couldn't have been worse for Liverpool's £35 million conundrum after Carroll belatedly started to show enough form to be reconsidered for England in the final weeks of the season


Despite his recent spat and subsequent bench-time at Old Trafford Wayne Rooney's continuing ability to grab goals for his country - six in as many starts ahead of this game against the Irish - dictates any plan has to centre on England's talisman.


Rooney is 5.94 to score first against Ireland and 2.74 to bag any time during the 90 minutes.


The real question is whether Hodgson is prepared to employ a 4-3-3 formation, so prevalent at many of the players' clubs in the Premier League, or whether he remains rigid in a 4-4-2.


Recent evidence suggests the former Fulham boss has an affinity with tradition, more often than not employing United's Danny Welbeck as Rooney's foil. While 'Welbs' is a talent and has notched three times in an England shirt this season (albeit two of those arrived against San Marino), he's had a truly indifferent campaign for champions Manchester United.


A return of just one Premier League goal does not bode well and instead points towards giving someone else a chance in alongside Rooney.


Enter Jermaine Defoe, Daniel Sturridge and Theo Walcott into the equation. All three represent capable front men, skilful and quick, but on recent form alone Sturridge or Walcott would have to be ahead of the Tottenham man.


This is where Hodgson must earn his crust. He has to decide who should get their chance, though a 4-3-3 formation seems the best and most accommodating option available to hi with Rooney flanked by the Liverpool and Arsenal men.


In this respect, Sturridge and Walcott are both used to playing in three-pronged attacks for their clubs, simultaneously giving England express-train pace on either side of the less rapid Rooney. Over to you Roy.


England are the 1.51 favourites to leave Wembley with the win.



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Keywords: England, Hodgson, balance, top

Source: Betfair

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