Shaun Wright-Phillips says England must play to their attacking strengths at the Euros and urges Gareth Southgate to pick players on form… as the ex-Man City and Chelsea man backs Phil Foden and Jack Grealish
Shaun Wright-Phillips believes England have to play to their attacking strengths at the Euros and avoid falling into the trap of being too conservative.
The Three Lions will face Croatia in their opening Group D match on Sunday with fixtures against Scotland and the Czech Republic to follow.
Wright-Phillips, who earned 36 caps for England and was part of the 2010 World Cup squad, says Gareth Southgate must trust his attackers to replicate the form they have shown for their club teams.
Former England international Shaun Wright-Phillips believes England must play to their attacking strengths at the Euros
Gareth Southgate has a number options to play alongside centre forward Harry Kane
‘With the attackers we have, it’s impossible to say to them “sit back”, none of the players are like that,’ Wright-Phillips told Sportsmail.
‘They want to play nice football, play interchanging passes and they want to create chances – especially with the likes of Grealish, Foden, Mount, Sterling, Sancho and Harry Kane. You can’t blunt them, they’re always going to be going for goal.’
It is unclear who Southgate will start alongside Harry Kane in the opening game against Croatia but Wright-Phillips says form should be the deciding factor.
‘For me, the first game is on form. I think I’d pick the ones that have been on form towards the end of the season. I’d have Mount and Foden, and the other one is up for debate.
Wright-Philliips believes Phil Foden should be given the nod to start against Croatia
Jack Grealish and Mason Mount could also be key players for the Three Lions this summer
‘I’m a massive fan of Grealish, I love the way he plays. But you have to go off training. As a manager you will see who has got that fire in their belly, it’s a tough decision. The great thing is he can change it and the next player he can bring on has that elite level as well, right now he is spoilt for choice.’
England’s performance at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where they made the semi-finals, has raised expectations going into the Euros.
‘The way the players have been playing in the Premier League, with the performances we’ve seen for the last year and a half, I think that brings expectation,’ says Wright-Phillips.
‘Now that we know what individuals are capable of, everybody wants to see it on the field for England. They’re in a position where they’ve got a great manager who has brought them together and I believe they’re going to show it this year.’
Jude Bellingham is in contention to become the youngest ever player to represent England at a major tournament with the 17-year-old having impressed in the warm-up games against Austria and Romania.
And Wright-Phillips believes the midfielder is more than ready to take the opportunity if it comes his way.
Wright-Phillips thinks Jude Bellingham should start if Jordan Henderson is not fit
‘I watched him in the Champions League against Man City, in both games he was one of the best players on the pitch.
‘For me, if Henderson is not fit he should start alongside Declan Rice. You know what you’re going to get from Jude, he will be your box-to-box holding midfielder. He will support the attack and support the defence at the same time. I think the way England will play on the break he’ll be very influential in all of that.’
So who is Wright-Phillips backing to win the tournament?
‘I think Belgium will cause more of a problem than people are thinking. Everyone at the minute is just thinking France and Portugal but Belgium, with the players they’ve got, I think people need to worry about them.
‘But of course I’m going to say England!’
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