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Dull and predictable: Why England continue to offer little reason for optimism

The latest England squad was announced today, and frankly it’s difficult to raise a weary eyelid to take note of the names Roy Hodgson has chosen. The Three Lions face the prospect of another farcical Euro 2016 qualifying game before an equally pointless friendly against Italy.

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UEFA’s bizarre decision to expand the European Championships to 24 teams, rather than 16, in a continent that already struggles to ensure competitive qualification games, was essentially a golden ticket for every half-decent team to book their place in France.

As such, the Three Lions are all but there already, and have little to play for at Wembley later this month. We’ve not been great thus far – in fact the performances against San Marino and Estonia were infuriating at times – but Hodgson will stick by his thoroughly unexciting squad, and will no doubt ground out another 1-0 win against a country with a population smaller than Manchester.

We’re all pleased to see flavour of the month Harry Kane included, although we’re excluding those, such as Gareth Southgate, that have pointed out the fact that he should have stayed with the Under-21s. But unfortunately, there’s little to suggest that stubborn old ‘Woy’ won’t stick by Danny Welbeck, who will probably take five years to reach Kane’s seasonal goal tally of 26.

The Italy game should provide a little bit more in the way of entertainment, although the match will, as always with these kind of fixtures, be disrupted by the twelve second-half substitutes. We might get a draw, we might even win, and that’ll lead to the most loyal of England supporters declaring the fact that we’re bound for glory.

In short, we’ve seen it all before. What’s Hodgson going to learn from this double-header? What are Joe Hart, James Milner and Daniel Sturridge going to prove? More likely, the squad will come home with a couple of fresh injuries and will ruin somebody’s season.

What have Adam Lallana, Andros Townsend or Theo Walcott done to prove they deserve to be in the squad at all? The answer – they’ve been there before. It’s comfortable, it’s easy, and it’s entirely uninteresting.

If you want to watch a passionate England team, who care about what they’re doing and are desperate for success in a highly competitive environment, you should watch the Under-21s, at least until the rest of them follow Kane into the senior squad.

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