Reports that Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson limped out of England training yesterday have prompted plenty of meditation on the state of the nation’s midfield, with widespread alarm at his importance to the cause the most common sentiment.
If he joins his Anfield colleague Daniel Sturridge among those injured on Three Lions duty, the 17/10 about Switzerland extracting maximum reward from their visitors will be even more alluring.
Yet, while Henderson’s energy will be a big loss for Roy Hodgson’s men, it’s unlikely it will affect a great downturn in the quality of England’s play.
“What? But there’s little doubt that he was one of the more, if not the most, consistently impressive English midfielders in the Premier League last season” you say?
However, while the former Sunderland star certainly played alongside Steven Gerrard in the withdrawn duo of a 4-2-3-1 for Brendan Rodgers last term, he was more often deployed in other positions around the side.
It was far from unusual to see him playing stage right when the Northern Irishman’s tactical chameleons were asked to adopt the aforementioned configuration in 2013/14.
Meanwhile, when the man they call ‘Bigfoot’ was pressed into central midfield action in Liverpool’s biggest matches, such as their 3-2 end of season victory over Manchester City, it was more often than not part as of a 4-3-3.
Unfortunately for England, and pleasingly for those keen to avail themselves of Switzerland’s win odds this evening, there is a distinct absence of genuine deep-lying midfielders within the squad.
On occasions Jack Wilshere has performed with credit in the ‘two’ for his club, but his best position is still up for debate in many quarters.
James Milner has barely featured for his club side this term, leaving Fabian Delph as something of a Hobson’s choice for a spot alongside the Arsenal man.
Yet, much like Henderson, the Aston Villa workhorse spent much of last season playing in a midfield trio, raising an interesting question.
Namely, would England’s middle-band resources be better served in a 4-3-3?