England produced a tepid display to see off Denmark 1-0 at Wembley on Wednesday night.
The Three Lions huffed and puffed for most of the game, but struggled to blow Denmark’s house down.
The performances of some of England’s newcomers were probably the most encouraging point of the night though.
England had failed to find the net in home defeats to Germany and Chile in previous matches. In those games England seemed to lack any creativity and attacking ideas. The Denmark game was not much better.
The build-up was too slow, with forwards Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney ineffective, as they attempted to rotate positions.
Both players can be class acts on their day, but both had an off-night against the organised Scandinavian outfit. Although Sturridge has played on the wing for Liverpool and earlier in his career, it is not his best position.
Sturridge is most effective when he is playing as a centre forward. The former-Chelsea star has been outstanding this season for Liverpool and for much of the campaign he has been playing as the central striker.
Sturridge is not going to cause the same damage to the opposition playing as a winger. In fact I would go as far to say that his poaching abilities are completely wasted in a wide position. For me Daniel Sturridge has to play as a centre forward, the goal being perfect proof of that.
Rooney plays his best football as a number ten behind the striker, so it seems logical to me that Sturridge plays up front, with Rooney behind the in-form striker.
Some of the England newcomers did not look out of place on the international stage. Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling has been in superb form for club this season and made only his second appearance for the Three Lions in the Denmark clash.
The youngster looked lively against the Danes and was one of England’s better performers on the night. Sterling did not look fazed at all, as he attempted to help England make the breakthrough. The young winger also worked hard and tracked back when he needed to. He was wasteful at times, but hopefully his final ball and pass will improve with experience.
The former-QPR trainee did his chances of making the plane for Rio no harm with that performance that is for sure.
Southampton star Adam Lallana has enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom this season. The 25-year-old has always had ability, but last season was his first in the top-flight. By his own admission he struggled in his maiden top-flight season.
However, this season he has adjusted to the Premier League and has shone brightly as the Saints midfield playmaker. The midfielder’s quick-feet and creativity is a breath of fresh air for the England team.
Lallana showed great skill to create England’s goal for Sturridge late-on. The England team had created very little, but Lallana’s skill was exactly what the Three Lions needed, a touch of individual skill to win a game that was otherwise heading for a stalemate.
Lallana’s Southampton teammate Luke Shaw came on at half-time for veteran Ashley Cole. The 18-year-old left-back has shown a great level of maturity for his club side and looked very assured on his international debut. Just like Sterling, he never looked fazed by playing on the international stage.
Shaw’s impressive displays for the Saints have led to speculation that he may move on this summer. However, they have also put him in a great position to be in England’s 23-man squad for the World Cup in June.
A number of England players underperformed against the Danes, including Rooney and Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling. Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere picked-up a knock in the first half and did not exactly cover himself in glory.
The more established players should be setting an example for the less experienced players, but instead it was the newcomers that made more of an impact on the game.
If England are to make it out of the group stages of the World Cup, which they are odds of 8/13 to do, then they will have to produce far better performances in Brazil. England boss Roy Hodgson has some very decent options available to him.
Whether Mr Hodgson can find the right balance for the World Cup remains to be seen. Recent performances suggest that the former-Liverpool boss cannot fashion a winning team from a group of talented players.
Can Roy Hodgson find a winning formula for England at the World Cup?