DAVID JONES: My England team '“ and there's no room for Jamie Vardy or Wayne Rooney
A month without Premier League football feels like a lifetime and I can't wait for the Euros to get started on Friday.
England go into the tournament as one of the usual favourites, and quite rightly given the way we powered through the qualifying campaign, winning 10 out of 10.
But still those English reservations niggle away after the usual uninspiring, tepid warm up matches that end up leaving us more confused about our patterns of play and our best team.
You might think that taking maximum points from qualifying would have provided enough answers for Roy Hodgson but in reality, what was good enough to see off Slovenia, Estonia and Lithuania might not be enough for Russia, Slovakia and of course Wales.
England have good players but not too many great ones; the most important factor is creating a platform in which they can all perform to the best of their ability.
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And which was the last England team you could say that about?
Perhaps the Euro 96 team which took us to the semi-finals, but even then was over reliant on the mercurial talent of a rapidly fading Paul Gascoigne.
There isn’t a player of that level in this squad so England have to become a team.
The story of the season in Europe were undoubtedly Leicester City and there is some logic to suggest that England could benefit from falling back on their approach by relying on the pace of Jamie Vardy.
But Leicester had 11 players who could defend, two powerful centre halves, tenacious energetic midfield players who did so much running they could still play two up front: England don’t.
The player who knows how to exploit Vardy’s game best, Danny Drinkwater, didn’t even make the final cut; he would certainly have been in my squad and indeed probably in my starting XI.
My England side doesn’t have room for Jamie Vardy, controversially there isn’t even a place for the captain Wayne Rooney, because I’d be going in with one striker who can bring out the best in the rest, Harry Kane.
The Spurs frontman is rapidly emerging as England’s most important player, a leader on and off the pitch, a genuine role model, and brilliant with his back to goal and in front of it.
His partnership with Delle Ali was one of the most exciting elements of the Premier League season and it’s that pair I would build this England team around: Kane up front on his own, Ali in the no10 role close behind with a licence to roam.
Ali gives you so much in that position; his natural instinct is to defend from the top of the pitch, to chase and to pressurise opponents into mistakes and then play with his head up, a creator and scorer of goals.
With those two names on the teamsheet I’d be looking to build a platform around them.
First, two defensive midfield players who’s role it is to protect the defence and also support the attack: Eric Dier and Jack Wilshere.
Dier picks himself in the absence of Drinkwater, the only player who really knows that position and I think he can grow into it as well.
Wilshere, and I agree with Hodgson here, is the only really class midfield player we have and has to play if he’s fit enough, and in this formation which I think sees the best of him.
Then we need two energetic wide men who realise their defensive role and give us solid shape out of possession, but also have enough flair to unsettle the opposition.
This was tougher, but I’m going with Raheem Sterling from the left and Adam Lallana on the right.
If Danny Welbeck had been fit he’d have been in my team; it’s his best position from the left as we saw in Switzerland when he scored both goals.
Lallana just has the craft for international football, rarely losing possession disciplined defensively, but with a creative eye too; an upgrade on James Milner if you like.
The back four is straightforward, again tapping into Spurs’ success with both full-backs coming from Mauricio Pochettino’s stable.
I’d expect Danny Rose and Kyle Walker to get right up the pitch allowing Lallana and Sterling to drift infield, knowing we have the security of two defensive midfield players behind them.
These might not be the best eleven England players, but I think they would make the best team and we’d have some fantastic options from the bench if Plan A doesn’t succeed in Rooney, Vardy and Daniel Sturridge.
I’m pretty sure Hodgson has something completely different in mind, but I’ll be cheering England on regardless, with a bit of luck all the way to the final.
My England team: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose, Dier, Wilshere, Sterling, Alli, Lallana, Kane.