Emile Heskey says Dele Alli is a unique player who should not be compared to former England stars.
The 20-year-old midfielder has enjoyed a breakthrough season at Tottenham and is likely to start at Euro 2016, despite having only made his senior international debut in October 2015.
Alli has drawn comparisons with Three Lions greats Bryan Robson and Paul Gascoigne, but Heskey considers the man plucked from the relative obscurity of MK Dons to be a one-off.
“I think he’s totally different,” he told Omnisport when asked who Alli most resembles.
“I wouldn’t compare him to Gazza. He’s got his own traits and he’s a fantastic player. He’s a goalscorer. He’s a driving force from the midfield.
“Someone who drives with the ball past players and can start things and get things going. He’s that player.
“He can play so many different positions. You can play him inside a little bit rather than out wide – you can play him in the number 10 role or just play him in the midfield three, but attacking-wise.”
While England will look to emerging talent Alli for inspiration in France, they will come up against a genuine superstar in the form of Gareth Bale when Roy Hodgson’s men face Wales in Group B.
Heskey is among those eager to watch the Real Madrid attacker attempt to transfer his La Liga and Champions League form to a major international tournament, his country’s first since the 1958 World Cup.
“Knowing his talent, he hasn’t been able to show that at this level,” Heskey said.
“Being able to do that on this stage is going to be phenomenal for him. People are going to see what he’s capable of and how good he actually is.”
Bale is unquestionably the biggest threat going forward for Chris Coleman’s side, while Hodgson, by contrast, has some tough decisions to make in the final third.
Chief among them is how to use captain Wayne Rooney, who has been guaranteed a starting berth by his manager despite the Manchester United forward’s struggle for form in 2015-16.
“If he’s fit there’s always room to put Wayne in,” Heskey said. “It all depends on what formation you’re going to play. If there’s one striker, for me, it’s got to be Harry Kane.
“If it’s two strikers, it’s got to be Kane and possibly [Jamie] Vardy. And then you’ve got [Daniel] Sturridge, who brings something totally different to them. He’s an outstanding player.”
England open their campaign by taking on Russia in Marseille on Saturday, followed by matches against Wales and Slovakia in Lens and Saint-Etienne respectively.
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