Tuesday 20 February 2018 / 04:48 AM

Dele Alli must start for England

The title of this article kind of says it all.

Tottenham’s 19-year-old midfielder simply has to start for England in this year’s European Championships; and if Roy Hodgson decides not to start him, it is a clear indication of two things.

Firstly, a lack of bravery. Starting Alli would be seen by many as a risk, but it would be such a calculated risk that if the England decided against making it, he would rightly be branded a coward.

Secondly, it would indicate that Roy Hodgson is not the man to take England forward. Given his age (68), it seems unlikely that the former Liverpool manager will be at the helm for many more years anyway, but should he fail to see the fact that Alli simply must play, it would show quite clearly that he isn’t the right man to make England a top-tier nation.

So what’s brought this strong opinion on?

Well, on one level, sustained excellence. Alli has been outstanding in multiple games this season, and has earned his starting slot in an England jersey with a series of fantastic performances for Tottenham.

But on another level – one moment. Specifically, the 84th-minute winner at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon.

If you’ve not seen this goal, you simply have to watch it. Because in one moment, Alli encapsulates everything that I’ve been trying to say in this article.


Dele Alli submitted his entry for #EPL goal of the year, producing this freakish piece of individual skill to propel…

Posted by Commentary Box Sports on Saturday, January 23, 2016

A flick, a swivel and a rifled volley from 25 yards ensured that Tottenham headed north with all three points, and there was something incredibly Gascoigne-esque about the goal that is worth consideration.

The reality is that England aren’t that good. As an England fan, I’ve got to face that fact. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t do really,reallywell at this summer’s Euros.

You see, with a player like Alli in the team, it only needs one or two moments of brilliance to catapult a side into the latter stages of a competition; and as anyone who has watched knockout football will know, anything can happen in a one-off game.

Rooney was similar when he burst onto the scene. Before his untimely injury against Portugal in Euro 2004, it was his moments of genius carrying the team forward.

His distinct lack of fear and ability to play on instinct alone had a profound effect on that England team.

It was the same for Gascoigne in 1996, too.

You see, whilst a ‘team’ like Germany or Spain are always going to be formidable opposition, when you’ve got a player like Alli, or Rooney in ’04, or Gascoigne in ’96, you know that you’ve got the ability to pull something out of nothing.

Right now, Alli is the only England player capable of doing that, and that’s why he simply must start in France this summer.

Trouble is, starting Alli would mean Hodgson making a big decision. Dropping Wayne Rooney.

Because, the fact of the matter is that Alli would be far more dangerous with his Tottenham counterpart Harry Kane than the past-it Rooney, and if Hodgson is selecting on form, that’s the nine and ten combination he should go with.

But, if I can be so bold – he won’t. For some strange reason, Rooney has been deemed undroppable for over a decade, and the chances of Roy demoting him, even to accommodate a prodigious talent like Alli, are slim to none.

And that’ll almost certainly be to England’s detriment. I sincerely hope that I’m wrong, but I doubt it.



Dele Alli submitted his entry for #EPL goal of the year, producing this freakish piece of individual skill to propel…

Posted by Commentary Box Sports on Saturday, January 23, 2016

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About the author

Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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