England boss Roy Hodgson ‘may have accidentally found his team’ for next summer’s Euro 2016 finals in France, according to Martin Keown.
Hodgson was without 17 players for Tuesday night’s friendly against France that would stand a chance of making the squad when fit, but Keown believes the youngest England team since 1959 staked a claim in the 2-0 win to keep their places even once the injuries have subsided.
‘Has Roy Hodgson accidentally happened upon not only his best XI but his best system too?’ Keown asks in his Daily Mail column.
‘He deserves a lot of credit — there was a real balance to the midfield that he has taken from Tottenham Hotspur.
‘In that three you have Eric Dier, who is the nightwatchman, with the exciting pair of Ross Barkley and Dele Alli either side.
England absentees v France
‘Barkley demonstrated he can really play, and he and Alli form an exciting partnership as they seem to spur each other on — neither wants to be out-done by the other when it comes to work-rate or skill.
‘I liked the way they alternated their pressing, with Wayne Rooney tucking in to help — it was a really impressive team display from them and I now think Hodgson has healthy competition for places.
‘The players all seem to have clear roles and knew what they were doing in and out of possession.
‘In picking his youngest ever team Roy has stumbled upon a really talented bunch.
‘Some of them were not on his radar a few months ago but he may have accidentally found his team for the Euros in France.
‘Sometimes it is not always the best players that make the best team. It was an emotionally drained France team — understandably so — but if I had played in that game I would feel hard done by to be left out after this performance.
‘Hodgson has the luxury of the return of a lot of players from injury and it looks like the Wembley nerves are gone having now won their ninth in a row in London.
‘He has been forced to field players that he may not have used if the others had been fit but they have done exceptionally well.’