England could make as many as six changes for their final group game against Slovakia this evening according to some reports.
This post is brought to you by William Hill with their Bet £10 Get £20 offer. Plus get a £5 Free Bet every time England win a match. Click for more details, T&C apply.
Roy Hodgson is already thinking about the second round before the group has been won.
The Three Lions need a victory to ensure they top Group B, whilst defeat could see them finish as low as third and put them at risk of facing the likes of Germany or Spain in the second round.
Captain Wayne Rooney is one of the six players rumoured to be rested for this evening’s game with Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere set to make his first start of the competition. Wilshere has yet to play a full 90 minutes for nearly two years now whilst Rooney has been one of England’s best players in France through two games.
The England and Manchester United captain has been playing alongside Dele Alli and Eric Dier in a central midfield three that has had the better of the possession versus both Russia and Wales, but Spurs’ Alli is also set to be rested versus Slovakia. Some are expecting Jordan Henderson to come in despite finishing the Premier League season injured. There were question marks over his and Wilshere’s fitness heading into Euro 2016 – should both start it would certainly raise some questions and nerves pre-game.
Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge proved to be the heroes on Thursday when they came on at half-time to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory over neighbours Wales. Both the Leicester City and Liverpool strikers are widely-expected to get their first start of Euro 2016, in place of Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling. Sturridge is 6/4 to score anytime with William Hill.
Kane has looked tired and ineffective in his two starts so far and many are calling for the Tottenham man to get a rest. He has simply played too much football over the past two years and it appears is has caught up with him this summer on the basis of his performances versus Russia and Wales. Sterling has simply been poor.
These changes would likely see Adam Lallana switched to the left wing, Sturridge on the right and Vardy up front in the 4-3-3 system that Hodgson has been deploying.
The final changes that are being rumoured are to go full-backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose a rest. Many named Walker as their man of the match versus Wales, bombing forward to help out with attacks and defensively keeping the likes of Gareth Bale quiet.
Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand are two solid full-backs and some corners are expecting them to start versus Slovakia. With a maximum of seven games in this tournament it appears Roy Hodgson plans to stay in France for a while by giving a number of players a rest.
This evening’s opposition only caused Wales the odd problem and all three of their goals so far have been fine individual efforts. Marek Hamšík and Vladimír Weiss in midfield are the two main threats – both creative and with the ability to score, both inside and outside the penalty area. AC Milan’s Juraj Kucka likes to make driving runs from centre midfield too. If England can keep these three quiet there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be an easy night in Saint-Étienne. They have top Premier League players to do just that.
Defensively Slovakia have looked weak. Whilst no team in this group has kept a clean sheet yet there’s certainly a good case in saying Slovakia have the weakest defence. Their goalkeeper was all over the shop versus a Gareth Bale free kick in their debut match at a European Championship, whilst Martin Škrtel backed off a stumbling Aaron Ramsey in the build up to Wales’ winner. Russia’s weak attack also caused them numerous problems, both early and late in the game, either side of Slovakia taking control of the game and scoring two goals.
If Roy Hodgson does indeed go with the above mentioned names, there’s no reason why the likes of Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson can control the game in centre midfield and the likes of Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge bag the goals up front. Slovakia are one of the weaker sides in the tournament and it shows boldness from the manager to rest a number of key players with the second round in mind, when really, England do still need the three points. England are a tasty 4/5 to win with William Hill.
Prediction: England 2-0 Slovakia