Roy Hodgson is preparing to reveal the 23 men he thinks represent England’s best chance of glory at Euro 2016, as he makes the initial 30-man squad announcement on Monday.

While pre-tournament excitement at our chances of success has never done us any good, there are reasons for optimism, with defensive options the only real cause for concern. Goalkeeping options are better than they have been for years, while Dele Alli’s emergence adds to a solid looking midfield.

However it’s the striking options that will cause Hodgson most headaches, as seemingly out of nowhere England are suddenly in a position where they have more options than places available.

Jamie Vardy’s dream season and Harry Kane’s continued development mean that Daniel Sturridge, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck have all been looking over their shoulders, wondering if their places are under threat, while there have been campaigns for others to be included, like Marcus Rashford and Andy Carroll.

Hodgson could go multiple ways with his striking selections, and has to decide whether to pick players purely based on form, overall ability or simply because one player offers something different.

Who should he go for? Well here’s a run-down of all his options and, based on the assumption that he’ll take five strikers, here’s who I think he should take:

The Premier League hit-men

 

Jamie Vardy – This season could hardly have gone any better for the Leicester City striker. When he was called up to the England squad for a post-season friendly against Ireland, there was a sense of bemusement. He had only scored five goals last season and was hardly a key player for a side that had spent most of their time in the relegation zone. 24 goals and a Premier League title later, no one can imagine an England squad without him.

Verdict – In the squad.

Harry Kane – In many ways this season has been more important for the Spurs front-man than last season. He’s been a truly marked man throughout this campaign, but concerns that he might be a one-season wonder have been emphatically dispelled as he heads into the final round of Premier League fixtures in pole position to claim the golden boot. He has yet to be quite as convincing at international level but is a definite for the relatively short plane ride to France.

Verdict – In the squad.

Sure bets, but with questions

Wayne Rooney – This is where Hodgson’s choices get a bit trickier. While the England captain is certain to be part of the squad, he will be far from a universally popular choice, with past form in international tournaments, plus his lack of Premier League goals this season being counted against him. Rooney remains arguably this country’s most talented player though, and claims that we will be better off without him have so far been unfounded. The question is whether he should be playing ahead of more natural strikers.

Verdict – In the squad.

Daniel Sturridge – His talent is unquestionable, and remains Hodgson’s most potent option in attack. If he hadn’t spent so much time injured over the last couple of years then his place in the first XI probably wouldn’t be in question despite Kane and Vardy, but people still question his reliability despite seeming to have been managed more carefully since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival at Liverpool. Even though he hasn’t been a regular starter at Anfield in recent times, the Reds are a much more dangerous team with him involved.

Verdict – In the squad.

Places under threat

Danny Welbeck – Like Sturridge, Welbeck has had his injury problems this season, but unfortunately for the Arsenal striker, he has neither the form nor the natural talent to fall back on. What Welbeck does have going in his favour though is his ability to play out wide, something that Hodgson has used to great effect. Whether that is enough to convince that he deserves a place in the squad is doubtful.

Verdict – Misses out.

Theo Walcott – The main frustration that has followed Walcott throughout his career is that given the hype that surrounded him as young as 16 years old, shouldn’t he have turned out better than he has? He’s a passable option but over the last few years has failed to hold down a place in the squad for both club and country. Leaving Arsenal is something he probably should have done some time ago but this summer could be big for the speedy striker.

Verdict – Misses out.

The outsiders

Andy Carroll – Injury problems have plagued Carroll throughout his career but there’s no doubting he’s an effective presence when he’s on the pitch, as demonstrated with a hat-trick against Arsenal a month ago. He could offer Hodgson a different option off the bench but can his place really be justified on the basis of a few games?

Verdict – Misses out.

Jermain Defoe – With most players, scoring 15 goals in a struggling team would result in a strong campaign to get him into the England squad. Yet we’ve heard nothing more than small rumblings after he scores time and time again. It’s a shame, because he remains the most natural finisher in the country, and he has proved that age is no barrier for him. If it is goals we want, then there’s no reason why Defoe shouldn’t be on the plane.

Verdict – In the squad.

*Images not our own
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