England midfielder Adam Lallana says Daniel Sturridge’s impact against Wales proves the formidable strength in depth at boss Roy Hodgson’s disposal.
The Liverpool striker was a half-time substitute during Thursday’s Euro 2016 Group B game in Lens, and it was his cross which allowed Jamie Vardy to steer in an equaliser after Ashley Williams’ misplaced header.
Sturridge wrapped up a 2-1 win for England with a goal deep into stoppage time courtesy of a a close-range finish past Wayne Hennessey, justifying Hodgson’s faith in taking him to France despite concerns over his fitness in build-up to the tournament.
Lallana says his team-mate is looking as fit as ever at present and feels his performance against Wales underlines the quality throughout England’s set-up.
“He’s got so much talent, he had a couple of sighters that went over and sometimes you think we could be a bit more patient and play the extra pass,” he said.
“But he doesn’t need too many chances and he showed what a vital player he is for us. He’s always involved in the game, he arrives at the big moments.
“It’s difficult for anyone when he’s faced a lot of injuries but that was one of the fittest I’ve seen him. He’s looking very dangerous.
“Credit to the manager making two subs who both had an impact. It shows how good the 23 is here. You’ve also got the likes of [Jack] Wilshere, [Jordan] Henderson, [James] Milner on the bench here – different midfielders for a different circumstance. Two other full-backs, as well.
“It shows how strong the squad is. Studge and Vardy come on at half-time and the opposition thinks ‘Oh, no’.”
England enjoyed close to 70 per cent possession but were often frustrated by a strong defensive showing from Wales, who took the lead through a Gareth Bale free-kick which Joe Hart failed to palm clear.
Lallana credited Hodgson for not hitting the panic button at half-time and praised his team-mates for showing the desire to fight for a result – something which Bale had called into question during the build-up to the game.
“I had no doubt that we were going to show guts,” he said. “Going 1-0 down wasn’t nice but these things happen, Gareth’s got a great free-kick in the locker, which we all know.
“Of course you’re down but you don’t have time to think about it in the game. The manager didn’t let us feel down at half-time, he just said to keep playing, play quicker, better, and the goals will come.
“We had to dig deep and show character. We spoke at half-time about being a bit more patient, showing a few more combinations and I could feel it in the first five minutes of the second half that something was coming.
“You can sometimes just feel it in games. They weathered the storm after that first 15 minutes but a bit of quality play won it in the end.”