Roy Hodgson says Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy will have to help out in wide areas if England use a diamond formation at the European Championships.
Hodgson started with Kane, Kane and Wayne Rooney for the first time in Thursday night’s friendly against Portugal at Wembley, but it required a late header from Chris Smalling to secure victory despite the sending-off of Bruno Alves in the 36th minute.
Rooney started at the tip of a midfield diamond, with Eric Dier at the base, Dele Alli on the left, and James Milner on the right, but it was an underwhelming display from the Three Lions despite the amount of attacking talent in the team.
Most concerning was the amount of time Kane and, in particular, Vardy spent tracking back down the flanks, but Hodgson insists there is no option but to ask that of the forwards if he persists with the same midfield.
“We played with split strikers,” Hodgson said. “When you play with that system, you need your strikers to split.
“If you play with them going down the middle and Rooney in behind them, you would never be able to defend the wide areas.
“There were moments in the game where they were too wide, but basically speaking their job is to split and come together.”
England have won all three of their warm-up games after previously beating Turkey and Australia 2-1, with Hodgson generally satisfied with the latest performance.
“Three very different games,” he said. “I was disappointed tonight that it didn’t stay 11 v 11.
“We’d have preferred that. It became an exercise in breaking a packed defence today.
“We got better at it but I was pleased with the composure, playing out consistently from the back – better than the two previous games – and the players showed patience.
“The pressurising wasn’t quite as frantic as it’s sometimes been. We have to keep that good part of the pressurising with some composed defending and a good, compact shape.
“There were some good individual performances and it’s good to go to a tournament having won three on the spin.”