An analysis of which four strikers England should take to Euro 2016

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So long the part of the team most derided for being useless, suddenly the part of the team most praised for being ruthless, England’s striking problem going into Euro 2016 this summer is a good one to have.

Six or seven players can make reasonable claims for contention, and quite a lot of the English players amongst the goals in this Premier League season play in different ways, making even the ones who do not fit into Roy Hodgson’s first XI useful ways to add a shock factor into the squad.

It can be reasonably assumed that England’s last competitive action, which included a morale-boosting come from behind win in Germany at the end of March, is how Hodgson wants to set his side up for the tournament in France. If that is the case, then England fans can expect a side that tries to keep the tempo quick, does not play technically refined football but rather runs and presses with great energy. With Liverpool and Tottenham players, who base their entire games around hard running and quick passing, making up a large chunk of the squad and possibly a majority of the starting line-up this should be a good thing.

StrikerGoals/game (15/16)Goals/game (Career)Goals/game (Last three years)Chances created/game (15/16, Squawka)
Harry Kane0.560.420.521.2
Daniel Sturridge0.470.380.540.44
Wayne Rooney0.440.440.431.5
Andy Carroll0.270.270.240.38
Jermaine Defoe0.540.420.450.62
Daniel Welbeck0.360.220.270.57
Jamie Vardy0.60.490.381.4

The table above reconfirms what most observers already know, since getting regular game time Daniel Sturridge and Harry Kane have been deadly, Wayne Rooney has been one of the most consistent forwards England have ever had, and Jamie Vardy and Jermaine Defoe are having one of the best years in their careers.

SEE MORE: Schedule of Euro 2016 games on US TV and live streaming

The four taken to France purely on the strength of goal scoring and chance creating form would be Kane, Sturridge, Rooney, and Vardy. Sturridge and Vardy press well and have pace to burn and a fit and sharp Sturridge is a lethal finisher, Rooney offers set piece ability as well as experience, and Harry Kane is an all-around great striker.

The only questions remaining around this selection are fitness – Sturridge and Rooney have both missed significant time this season and Sturridge has a long injury history, and versatility. In some ways picking four reasonably similar strikers is the perfect selection because they can just be rotated out of the team depending on form without changing anything about the overall style of play, however what you lack is a silver bullet on the bench.

With Andy Carroll, one substitution can basically reorganize a whole team. Managers only have three big cards they can play during a game, and to completely change the style of the team on the park with just one of them is good to have.

While Carroll has never been a prolific striker, and does have injury and lifestyle problems, he does have a habit of scoring important goals. Last weekend’s hat trick against Arsenal and a winner for Liverpool in a cup semi-final against Everton come to mind. With battering ram strikers like Carroll seen less and less in the rarefied technical atmosphere of international football his surprise factor may be even more useful. His defensive contribution at set-pieces would come in handy as well.

However at international level, it is often more useful to keep steaming ahead with a Plan A, tweaking and modifying when required but not abandoning it at the first signs of an emergency. Carroll’s lack of mobility could just as easily confuse and disrupt the style England are trying to play, and as such is a left-field selection that probably won’t be considered.

Jermaine Defoe brings experience to the table as well and has been in better form than Rooney this season. If form is a criteria for Jamie Vardy’s inclusion surely Defoe should merit a mention as well. However Rooney’s capacity to fill one of the midfield places allowing potentially playing him behind a duo of Kane and Sturridge if need be should see him get the nod, even if he wasn’t captain.

It seems that the stars have aligned this season, after a slow start Harry Kane has rolled on to strong form, Jamie Vardy is having the best year of his career on the biggest stage, and Daniel Sturridge has come back and started scoring regularly just in time. Even Rooney, who scored seven in nine before his knee injury looked promising against Aston Villa.

With everything going in their favor and hopefully an English golden boot winner (if Kane or Vardy can hold off the challenge of Sergio Aguero and Romelu Lukaku) in their ranks England could be well placed to cause a stir in France. Winning the tournament is probably beyond them, but winning a group containing Wales, Russia, and Slovakia is not, potentially setting up a Round of 16 game with one of the third place sides and a favorable route to the quarters.

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