Results have been good for Roy Hodgson’s England, post World Cup humiliation, but as the Three Lions head into their fourth Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia the manager has some rethinking to do thanks to injuries.
Fabian Delph’s rise to prominence in an Aston Villa shirt, and subsequent impressive friendly displays for his country, ensured the midfielder gained immediate access to Hodgson’s starting line-up on the left of a midfield diamond.
However, a nasty shoulder injury has put paid to Delph’s involvement in the upcoming qualifier against Slovenia, which Hodgson’s charges are warm 3/10 favourites to win.
Luckily, for the former Fulham boss, the current stocks of English midfielders able to fill Delph’s boots are generously deep.
But the man most adept at replacing the dynamism offered by Delph on the left of England’s four-pointed midfield, is Arsenal livewire Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain.
The Ox, as he’s affectionately known, is a consistently polished performer whenever he slips on the England shirt.
His ability to drive at, and past, people is not unique to the Ox in the squad, but from deeper areas it’s a very powerful weapon as he displayed in helping to create Arsenal’s last Premier League goal at Swansea with a trademark burst.
The Ox also has the physicality to match Delph, which is important in realising the defensive duties this role demands.
Further back, Hodgson is given another headache by the lack of match fitness for Ox’s teammate Jack Wilshere, who he is moulding into playing as the anchor of his diamond.
Hodgson could opt to play Jordan Henderson in this role, though the Liverpool vice captain is probably better placed on the right side of midfield so he can join in with attacks.
Michael Carrick could have been a viable option had he not pulled out through injury, leaving the versatile and disciplined James Milner as the next best choice for Hodgson.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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