As England head into a new era, one of the main hurdles Roy Hodgson must overcome, in the short term at least, is how best to deal with the absence of Wayne Rooney.
The Manchester United star is undoubtedly England’s only true world class performer (outfield, anyway, as I’d put Joe Hart into the category) and his absence for the first two Group D games of England’s Euro 2012 campaign against France and Sweden threatens to severely derail Hodgson’s hopes of progress.
Of course, Rooney has nobody but himself to blame after his senseless sending off against Montenegro last October, but that is of no help to Hodgson. The first trial run of a Rooney-less England is against Norway on Saturday in Hodgson’s first game in charge, and who can step up to fill the void of a man with 28 international goals to his name?
Since the 2010 World Cup, the former Watford man has notched seven times in 12 games for England, and has scored a seriously impressive four in his last five games for his country.
Andy Carroll looks set to replace Rooney, but with just four league goals to his name for Liverpool all year the odds of 5/1 on offer for him to score first, not to mention his lack of international experience, doesn’t have you reaching for your pocket. Steven Gerrard has played just once for England in 19 months and his appearance against Norway could be fleeting, while midfield duo Gareth Barry and Scott Parker are not, for all their many qualities, going to offer much of a goal threat.
The man who could well offer that threat is Ashley Young, and at 15/2 to score first and 2/1 to notch anytime he is the value shout.
Young has enjoyed a typical Young season for Manchester United – he started off brilliantly, went missing for months and ended the season brilliantly, diving controversy apart. He is certain to start against Norway and is worth a punt to continue his fine goalscoring form for England.
Since the 2010 World Cup, the former Watford man has notched seven times in 12 games for England, and has scored a seriously impressive four in his last five games for his country. With no obvious goal threat, Young is the value shout for an England goal.
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