England congregate for the first of three vital warm-up matches ahead of Euro 2016 when Turkey visit Manchester City’s Etihad stadium on Sunday, giving Roy Hodgson a chance to test out some theories.
Although the Three Lions are now a 26-man contingent, set to be whittled down to 23 on the eve of their final friendly against Portugal, several players will be unavailable to Hodgson at the Etihad Stadium.
The game is in too close proximity to the FA Cup final for Manchester United’s trio, while Liverpool’s Europa League exploits mean the unused Jordan Henderson will be the only one of five Reds in the 26 who has joined up with England, as the others recover.
This means some of those fringe players must be given a chance to stake a claim. Although he’s certain to stick with Joe Hart in goal it would be advantageous to give Fraser Forster a half potentially.
England’s defence is still a bit of a blank canvas, so running the rule over Forster’s Southampton teammate Ryan Bertrand at left-back also has obvious merit. John Stones standing in for Chris Smalling is also a handy necessity after a rocky few months for the Evertonian.
With Nathaniel Clyne missing, Tottenham’s Kyle Walker will jump at the chance for 90 minutes exposure at right-back.
Auditions in midfield will be among the most hotly contested, while everyone in the country will be crying out to see Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy deployed in tandem.
In order to accommodate this potentially lethal double act, opting for a formation that served Hodgson well at times in qualifying is tailor made.
Jack Wilshere excelled at the base of a midfield diamond before injury struck and now on the comeback trail the Arsenal man needs game time in his legs.
Eric Dier may well have forced his way into that potential berth for the Euros, considering he has sewn it up this season at Spurs, but Wilshere is blessed with the greater ability to play in any central midfield role if required.
Danny Drinkwater looks another who must be thrown into battle having been correctly rewarded for an outstanding campaign helping Leicester to the title.
Henderson is a conundrum. The Liverpool skipper was impressive against Germany before his injury although he has had quite a flat season for the Reds and his place is no longer assured for the Three Lions.
He should get the second half perhaps. This leaves Manchester City duo Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph to prove their doubters wrong after largely underwhelming seasons for the Citizens.
Delph showed he can be effective on the left of a diamond before for England and Sterling’s best position is still arguably at the tip of a diamond.
This pair are genuinely playing for their spots in the 23, let alone the starting XI against Russia in England’s Group B opener.
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