England vs. Poland: Andros Townsend Proves Roy Hodgson Must Trust in More Youth
England will need more than the fearless direct running of Andros Townsend to prosper over a well-organised and talented Poland team.
The Chelsea and Liverpool veterans may finally have found a way to play together after all these years, but their new-found understanding comes more through their lack of mobility than an increase in awareness or tactical familiarity.
It's hardly fair to call it a double pivot, which has always been the ultimate dream of every one of their supporters calling for the dysfunctional partnership to be tried once more.
However, the on-paper theory of the two club-level match winners tempering their attacking tendencies against the other, with one sitting back when the other surges forward, and vice versa, has never come to fruition.
Rather, now that they are both unable to bomb forwards, Lampard and Gerrard have begun to sit back and play a more static game, covering each other by default but sapping England's midfield of energy.
Introducing a younger player with the legs to run up and down the field alongside one of the two old hands is vital.
Jack Wilshere or Jordan Henderson look ideally suited for such a role, if only Hodgson could bring himself to trust the respective Arsenal and Liverpool prospects.
Henderson's absence from the England squad at all is very peculiar given his form for Brendan Rodgers' team and inability to play for the Under-21s anymore.
It's these sorts of players that the national set up so often fail, as new starlets such as Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling are promoted from England's youth teams while past graduates are abandoned to the international wilderness.
Worryingly, the former Sunderland prodigy was included in Hodgson's Euro 2012 squad at a time when his club performances were often dire. Now that he's in good form, and a litter older, he's being over-looked, outshined by new, youthful flavours of the month.
Perhaps it's time that England made better use of the players coming through in their early 20s rather than continuing to strip Gareth Southgate's U-21 team of their best players. After all, it's unlikely Barkley and Co will be receiving any real amount of game time in the senior squad.
Andros Townsend shows what can happen when a player from this missing age group is given a proper chance for England, and his impact against Montenegro will hopefully encourage Hodgson to see him as a model for further injections of youth into his team.
The alternative is to fall back on the tried, tested and mediocre solutions that unfortunately seem highly likely.
It wouldn't be a shock to see Townsend benched to play Poland, with James Milner returned to the first team as a defensive, wide midfielder rather than an attacking winger, while it would be a surprise if Lampard and Gerrard are broken up in the middle.
Having already talked up the chances of Robert Lewandowski and his countrymen as they head to Wembley with 18,000 fans, per The Telegraph, England fans will hope Hodgson isn't once again seeking to manage expectations.
Should Lampard and Gerrard be played together for England?
Adding a more youthful vigour to the starting 11, especially in midfield, would increase the team's confidence and the effectiveness of Hodgson's system.
Replace Lampard with Wilhere, retain Townsend, and there will likely be no need for flukey own goals and scruffy openers to get England underway against Poland.
This is a must-win game, and a bit of boldness and new ideas could be exactly what's needed to see the team over the line and into first place and automatic qualification.
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