England jetted off this morning for the European Championships, with their opening game coming against Russia in Marseille on Saturday.
Of the 23 players who will be available, manager Roy Hodgson has decisions to make when it comes to naming his starting eleven, with a number of formations and player combinations to choose from.
Hodgson has already stated that captain Wayne Rooney will definitely start, despite arguments from many claiming that his form does not merit it.
Although the diamond formation against Portugal patently did not work, with the right personnel it can have the desired impact.
1. Joe Hart
Still a prominent goalkeeper, though at this stage is England’s number one by default. The emergence of Jack Butland will test that in the next couple of years, but the Stoke goalkeeper’s injury keeps him at arm’s length for the time being.
Right Back: 2. Kyle Walker
Centre Back: 6. Chris Smalling
Centre Back: 16. John Stones
Left Back: 3. Danny Rose
Given the fact that he only selected three specialist central defenders, Hodgson has not given himself much to work with in terms of potions. However, while Chelsea’s Gary Cahill will probably partner Chris Smalling in defence, John Stones would perhaps be the better option given the concerns over Cahill’s fitness.
The four full backs are generally pretty evenly matched, though Walker and Rose should probably get the nod ahead of Clyne and Bertrand by virtue of the former pair having better seasons. However, both will need to provide better width than that which they provided against Portugal.
Defensive Midfielder: 17. Eric Dier
Centre Midfield: 18. Jack Wilshere
Centre Midfield: 4. James Milner
Attacking Midfielder: 20. Dele Alli
Though Wayne Rooney played in the number ten role last week, playing Dele Alli anywhere other than there is a waste of his talents. He was shunted out to the left against Portugal and he looked lost.
Dier in defensive midfield picks itself. He was one of Tottenham’s breakout stars last season, and possesses greater football intelligence than many other players in the squad.
The centre of midfield is one area where the arguments will flare up time and again. Wilshere, despite his injury problems, always seems to turn it on for England – and is probably the best central option in that squad. Milner, meanwhile, continues to be underrated – seven goals and fourteen assists this season is an impressive haul and should start ahead of the unfit Henderson and underperforming Barkley and Rooney.
Striker: 9. Harry Kane
Striker: 11. Jamie Vardy
Kane and Vardy are England’s most in-form strikers with almost 50 Premier League goals between them in the season just gone – if Hodgson does go with a two-striker formation, then he simply has to start these two. However, it cannot work with Rooney behind them as was evident against Portugal. It can work, but only with Alli behind them and greater width from the full backs.
The diamond can appear narrow on paper, but if the full backs can make better runs out wide it can work. Should Hodgson want to introduce a bit of width from the midfield, however, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling are viable options from the bench.