The FIFA World Cup 2014 was a disaster for England, failing to win a game and exiting at the group stage at the expense of Costa Rica and Uruguay.
Many believe Roy Hodgson deserved to be fired immediately, giving his successor the Euro 2016 Championships to warm up for the 2018 World Cup, but the English FA have committed to giving the former Liverpool manager his third major tournament at the helm.
The squad, albeit wrecked by injuries, is an intriguing one, with fresh faces and fresh hope filling the setup.
England's New Look
That's led to an almost entirely new midfield selection from Hodgson, and as a result, Jack Colback and Fabian Delph are in the squad for the first time. Jordan Henderson is now arguably the best central midfielder England have, while Danny Rose, Calum Chambers and John Stones are now getting a good look too.
Surprisingly, Nathaniel Clyne has been ignored once again as England scrabble for a right-back to replace the injured Kyle Walker. Stones and Chambers are set to play the roles against Norway and Switzerland.
Gary Cahill is England's defensive stalwart, and Leighton Baines will continue at left-back until Luke Shaw can challenge him again, but who partners Cahill in the centre is a big question mark.
Phil Jones has been good for Manchester United early this season and will play from the start against Norway, while Chambers and Stones will eye his position enviously from afar.
Captain Wayne Rooney should partner Daniel Sturridge up front.
Is That a Diamond?
Hodgson's confirmed XI looks like the 4-4-2 laid out above, with Rooney and Sturridge up top ahead of two banks of four. That'd be very, very Hodgson, of course, but based on Liverpool's success with the diamond—and his infatuation with copying the Reds' 4-3-3 before the World Cup—could we see a replica here?
Raheem Sterling at the tip spells trouble for any defence in the world, and at 19 years of age he stands one of the best players in the setup regardless of his inexperience.
That would allow Henderson his regular shuttling role, galloping from box to box to link the play, and leave Jack Wilshere as the deepest, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stabilising.
It's the perfect way to get Rooney and Sturridge paired up without losing the battle for the middle of the pitch, and it's also the best way to unlock Henderson's athleticism in the centre.
If it is a diamond, Stones at right-back makes sense as a stabilising full-back too. Baines will inevitably creep forward, and you can't have Cahill and Jones protected solely by the (defensively) unreliable Wilshere.
If it turns out a flat 4-4-2, England will have returned to the dark ages and with it, summoned the spirit of Euro 2012. If it's a diamond, it's exciting, as although it won't work as well as Brendan Rodgers' version, it could signal the start of a more interesting and capable qualifying campaign.
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