England’s magnificent 3-2 victory over Germany in Berlin was arguably the best performance and result of the Roy Hodgson era, and raised expectations ahead of Euro 2016.
So, who were the standout players? Here, CaughtOffside identifies five whose starting spots for the tournament in France should be nailed down after Saturday’s triumph.
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Hodgson is not blessed with the defensive depth that he is in other areas of the pitch, but the Manchester United star has probably been the best English centre-back in the Premier League this season.
But, with Gary Cahill a senior figure and John Stones in the background, Smalling’s Euro 2016 starting spot may not have been guaranteed until his strong and assured display at the Olympiastadion.
The Liverpool right-back was first choice prior to England’s trip to Germany, and consolidated his place with an excellent attacking display in which he supplied Jamie Vardy’s superb breakaway equaliser.
Kyle Walker had been putting pressure on Clyne with his form for Tottenham Hotspur, but the Reds man showed that he can be just as good as his rival going forward, and is arguably better defensively.
The 21-year-old was not only the match-winner with a maiden international goal, but he accompanied his powerful stoppage-time header with a very mature performance protecting England’s fragile back four.
England have often gone without a genuine holding midfielder in previous major tournaments and have come unstuck, but the Spurs youngster showed that he is ready to play an important role for his country.
And he should be joined in midfield by his Tottenham pal Alli, who, despite a glaring late miss in Berlin, was probably still man of the match in an exciting display which defied his relative inexperience.
The 19-year-old seemed completely unfazed by the talent around him – Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos among others – and combined a genuine attacking threat with a tireless work rate. He has to play.
Hodgson’s biggest dilemma could be who to pick up front, but Kane’s performance proved that he should get the nod ahead of Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge and even Wayne Rooney to lead the England line.
Tottenham’s 21-goal striker started the England comeback with a brilliant individual goal, and his relationship with Alli gives the Three Lions an attacking dimension which will trouble the best defences.
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