This 2014/15 Premier League season has been a window of opportunity for a few English strikers, which provides Roy Hodgson some big decisions for the upcoming EURO 2016 qualifier against Lithuania (27th March). A friendly against Italy follows that game, but the build-up before these two fixtures will involve who will be starting up front.
It has been a long season already for Tottenham Hotspur with the Europa League and the Capital One Cup, but Harry Kane has been in the form of his life scoring for fun. He has been scoring a variety of goals that have impressed a number of managers, players and pundits. His name has been one of the biggest talking points most weeks, because of his dedication and work rate alongside fantastic technical ability. Some outstanding performances in big games, such as Arsenal and Chelsea at White Hart Lane where he netted a brace in both games, have raised the question of should Harry Kane start for England?
Alan Shearer, the Premier League leading scorer in history, has some very positive views on the youngster, “He seems to have that natural ability to get goals. He's also young, fresh and his attitude appears to be very, very good.” Shearer recently spoke to thepremierleague.com and displayed his praise for Kane.
Alongside Kane, Saido Berahino and Charlie Austin will be battling for a place in the England squad. Here is the list of possible forwards for Roy Hodgson (along with their Premier League goal tally this season so far):
· Wayne Rooney (Manchester United -10 goals)
· Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool – 3 goals)
· Danny Welbeck (Arsenal – 4 goals)
· Rickie Lambert (Liverpool – 2 goals)
· Harry Kane (Tottenham – 16 goals)
· Charlie Austin (QPR – 15 goals)
· Saido Berahino (West Brom – 12 goals)
· Danny Ings (Burnley – 9 goals)
These players have a balanced variety of technical and physical attributes. There is strong competition for each English striker to prove themselves for the upcoming games. Those figures show that Lambert, Welbeck and Sturridge are behind the rest in terms of goals but between the three of them they have faced injury and club selection difficulties. It is refreshing to see a group of English strikers succeed along the elite in the Premier League. Kane and Austin have been a breath of fresh air in the Premier League scoring 31 goals between them, sitting just below Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero.
However, with the U21 European Championship in mind this summer, I think Roy will be careful with his selection. By allowing Kane, Berahino and Ings to be selected by Gareth Southgate for the U21 tournament could benefit these players to achieve international tournament experience that could be vital for the senior side at EURO 2016. I would like to see Kane though in particular to play against Lithuania and Italy, even though Pochettino has called the England selectors to be thoughtful with Kane’s playing time after such a long season with Tottenham - a serious injury would be terrible during peak form. However, if Kane hit the ground running for England it would be a great way start to his international career. Lithuania conceded 4 goals against a reasonable Swiss side that looked average against England. I think Roy will be tempted to play the Kane card.
On paper it all looks good for England, but tactically how can England achieve success. So far the senior England side have been organised and clinical in their previous qualifiers, but a couple of extra ‘wildcards’ in the squad could emerge this England team to be a possible favourite when it comes to EURO 2016. There is a lot of potential in this England squad all over the pitch particularly Southampton and Liverpool players who have excelled. Starting with Forster who has shown some goalkeeping heroics. Ryan Bertrand and Nathanial Clyne have been outstanding this season both defensively and offensively. Furthermore, players such as Henderson and Sterling have been brilliant for Liverpool since Christmas.
As it stands, Roy will be very happy with this pool of England players who are performing at the highest level of domestic football in Europe. So, it is time to be forward thinking about this group of English players because the Brazil nightmare of 2014 has past and England have to dream of EURO 2016 success. Yes, form is temporary and class is permanent, but these young Englishmen are class. They have super technical ability and if that is matched with confidence and form England have every chance to build a great team.
ENGLAND VS. LITHUANIA
(My selection for the next qualifier)