Reports in the Sunday Telegraph suggest Roy Hodgson is toying with the idea of deploying Wayne Rooney on the left flank of a 4-2-3-1 formation ahead of England’s game with Switzerland.
In the absence of Daniel Sturridge, there will have to be some attacking readjustments made to the Three Lions team that scraped a 1-0 win over Norway last time out and it’s believed that, despite being the senior striker in the squad, Rooney will be shunted out to the wing.
England have allegedly been rehearsing a number of different systems ahead of their opening Euro 2016 qualifying game, with Rooney on the left of an attacking-midfield triumvirate containing Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain behind Danny Welbeck among the trialled systems.
Hodgson has stated that skipper Rooney – 11/2 to open the scoring in Basel – will start at centre-forward against the Army Knives, but his desire to experiment suggests that, when Sturridge is fit, the Manchester United man could well be re-housed on the left of midfield.
The purpose of the reconfiguration is to shift Liverpool’s Sterling inside to the ‘number ten’ role that Rooney is likely to find himself playing in for the Red Devils following Radamel Falcao’s arrival.
As England’s World Cup loss to Italy confirmed, Rooney on the left flank is more of a hindrance than a help to the team; as a forward, he obviously has no inclination to defend, while stationing him in a wide berth also negates several of his ample attacking assets.
Recent form aside, the Everton academy graduate remains England’s best player and, if realigning Sterling has become priority number one on Hodgson’s tactical to do list, it shouldn’t come at the cost of nullifying the captain’s threat.
A simple solution to this is one the Croydon Commandant is apparently unwilling to try – the ‘diamond’ midfield.
As he so frequently does at club level, Sterling would occupy the most advanced berth of the four prongs, with Arsenal duo Oxlade-Camberlain and Jack Wilshere in the central spots, providing support to those ahead of them and Jordan Henderson who would be dropped in deeper.
The son of Sunderland may not be the tough tackler so frequently stationed in such a spot, but he has the unrelenting energy levels to press all game long, while his stellar passing prowess will enable him to move the ball from back to front quickly.
This midfield set up would mean Rooney would remain in a line-leading twosome, where he would undoubtedly be at his most dangerous.