England manager Roy Hodgson is spoilt for choice as far as his attacking options go but the defence is a concern, though he was more angry at referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz for the goals they conceded in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Dutch at Wembley.
Wayne Rooney, England’s record goalscorer, is likely to be fit to join Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck as attacking options for upcoming friendlies against Turkey, Australia and Portugal.
England’s opening match in the Euro 2016 tournament is against Russia in Marseille on June 11.
A 3-2 win over world champions Germany on Saturday and Tuesday’s somewhat unfortunate 2-1 defeat to a side that has not even qualified for the finals emphasised where Hodgson’s focus needs to be if England are to mount a real challenge in France.
Hodgson backed his defence after the match on Tuesday, telling reporters: “I didn’t honestly feel there were many occasions in the game when I was frightened the Dutch team were going to score a goal against us.
“I thought we controlled that quite well, but they scored two goals so perhaps I am kidding myself.”
He could well be, as the defence has been breached four times in two games.
However, one of those goals came after goalkeeper Jack Butland fractured an ankle against Germany and the Netherlands’ second arrived after Vincent Janssen clearly fouled Phil Jagielka in the build-up but the referee waved play on.
Hodgson also suggested Danny Rose was harshly punished when the ball hit his hand for the penalty that led to the Dutch equaliser.
Overall, however, the defence in both games has lacked the steel needed to win a tournament.
Hodgson has experimented with Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling, John Stones and Jagielka in the centre of the defence and with three months to go, there is no obvious first-choice pairing.
He said he thought Stones gave an assured performance on Tuesday but the 21-year-old seemed to lack confidence at times, holding on to the ball too long before clearing and slipping in the move that led to the Dutch equaliser.
Hodgson made eight changes on Tuesday to the team that started against Germany, and the England side that faces Turkey in Manchester on May 22 will be made up of players going to France.
If Hodgson has his defence right by then, England could well build on Saturday’s win and put Tuesday’s defeat down to bad luck or inexperience.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)