Roy Hodgson has given Dele Alli his most glowing endorsement yet by suggesting the youngster could be the current England side’s answer to ‘Captain Marvel’ Bryan Robson.
The Tottenham midfielder has enjoyed a breakthrough season at the club, having scored seven goals in 42 appearances in all competitions, while also breaking into the England team and even marking his starting debut with a tremendous goal in a 2-0 win over France.
And with Alli, 19, set to pick up his fifth cap, England manager Hodgson said the teenager can emulate the feats of Robson – who score 26 goals in 90 appearances for the national team – in his midfield.
“Dele Alli could do anything in those midfield positions. He could be box-to-box. He could be a number 10, or a [defensive] number six. He could be any of them. He has genuine all-round ability,” he said.
“He can challenge, run, fight for the ball, see a pass, score a goal. You mention Bryan Robson — that’s the player I’d like to think he could become.
“But he’s 19. It’s dangerous, [saying] these things. He’s at the start of his career, one we hope will be very long. But he wouldn’t be in the team if I didn’t believe in him.
“I’m impressed with him all season. Whenever you have a player that young, and when you recognise his talent despite the fact he’s 19 and hasn’t played for the England Under-21s – that’s a bold decision, to put him in the squad and play him.
“But Ray Lewington, [coach] Gary Neville and myself are convinced he has the ability, so we took the chance and have been rewarded.”
Alli will be hoping to repay Hodgson’s faith with another strong performance against world champions Germany on Saturday, when he is set to reprise the number 10 role behind fellow Tottenham star Harry Kane.
Jack Butland is set to start in goal following an injury to Manchester City’s Joe Hart, while Gary Cahill will partner Chris Smalling in defence, with Liverpool attacker Adam Lallana and Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck likely to operate in wide positions.