Gareth Southgate should go for broke this summer – and put Phil Foden at the heart of England’s assault on the Euros.
As we try to topple the finest the continent can offer, the Three Lions’ chief needs to look at the Manchester City playmaker and think of the upside.
And that means putting faith in the ‘Stockport Iniesta’ from the off and making him our trump card.
This week, I’ve been thinking long and hard about our approach to this tournament and I’ve come to the conclusion that Foden’s inclusion is the best way forward.
So far, he’s been used off the bench and pretty sparingly.
But I think the potential rewards are so great that picking the 20-year-old makes perfect sense to me.
Gareth has plumped for a 4-3-3 system throughout the majority of his time in charge – and I think he’s right to try others – but that’s the way I think he’ll go.
England are strong at full-back with athletic runners and West Ham’s Declan Rice is now the main man at the holding role in front of the back four.
Ordinarily, the choice would then be Jordan Henderson and Chelsea’s Mason Mount – but I think Liverpool’s skipper could be sacrificed because Foden needs to be at the centre of it all.
He can hold the ball, keep things ticking along, produce intricate passes further up the pitch – something that none of his rivals can.
So the question then is, do we go for evolution with him coming on as a substitute now and again, or do we take a bold approach?
I say we roll the dice.
Now, I love Henderson to bits. He’s a winner, a great captain on the pitch and Liverpool fans always moan about how much worse they are without him.
But I’ve got a feeling that if we let Foden loose on the rest of Europe that we will see an even greater return at the World Cup next year.
I do think there are a couple of other spots that are not necessarily up for grabs but where England’s head coach has a decision to make.
One of those is in goal.
Gareth’s naturally conservative and does like to go with what he knows.
And he likes what Jordan Pickford gave him out in Russia but more minutes in goal for Burnley’s Nick Pope is going to be no bad thing.
Pope has enjoyed a solid season and done little wrong.
It could come down to how he impresses during the next two games – and also how Everton’s keeper finishes the current Premier League campaign when he returns to full fitness.
Elsewhere, there are options aplenty – particularly up front.
Totenham’s Harry Kane is a world-class striker, his position is not in question.
What is open for some debate is who operates outside him. I’m not convinced that he has totally bought into Jack Aston Villa’s Grealish yet. Perhaps not enough to start him ahead of others in that position outside England’s captain, anyway.
I’d expect Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford to be the ones chosen to start
But I would take Jack because he does offer flexibility and something different to the others.
And there will be players such as United’s Jesse Lingard, on loan at West Ham, who will have done their chances of a late call-up the world of good.
He might be a wildcard.
Gareth did exactly the right thing in leaving out so many of his big-hitters.
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He was rewarded by the group’s two biggest challengers – Poland and Hungary – sharing the points in midweek which has only strengthened his hand.
I don’t expect his approach to change too much for the game today. I think he will take the opportunity to rest one or two.
I expect the main men to come out to play against Poland – and I’d like to see England set up to make the most of Foden’s special talent then as well.
[email protected] (Stan Collymore)