Craig Dawson only ray of light for dismal England U21s
While the papers are rightly hammering the Young Lions after two woeful displays saw them stumble at the first hurdle in Israel, England should still be expected to go home with at least a shred of dignity by beating the hosts.
Whether it is down to the tactical naivety of manager Stuart Pearce or the underwhelming performances of his so-called star players (the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Tom Ince and Jordan Henderson spring to mind) is up for debate but either way England have failed abysmally to live up to expectations.
But while the above named players, and a few others, have frustrated many and poured doubt over the future of the national side, one player has carried his pre-tournament form into the competition proper.
West Brom centre-back Craig Dawson provides a calming and assured figure in the back four and continues to find the net at a staggering rate for a defender.
Goals have always been a big part of the former Rochdale man’s game. He has six in his 14 appearances for the U21s so far, scored 10 in a 45-game second spell at his home-town club and netted four times during his 16-game loan spell at Bolton last year.
Dawson was unlucky to see his headed effort ruled out in the opening game against Italy and coolly converted England’s consolation penalty in the 3-1 reverse against Norway.
As such, the Baggies’ defender looks good value at 10/1 to open the scoring and 10/3 to net at any time during the match against Israel.
England have disappointed hugely in this tournament, but with Dawson in the back four they went to Israel having won nine on the bounce without conceding a goal.
They may have failed to live up to those standards so far, but if Pearce, who should be fighting to save his job now, goes into full Psycho mode, he could just gee his players up enough to shore up the defence once more.
England are currently priced at 21/10 to win the game to nil and those willing to stake on a scorecast could be tempted by the 80/1 that says Dawson can score first in a 3-0 win, given that Israel have conceded six goals in their two games so far.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.