England manager Roy Hodgson would be well within his rights to tell Harry Kane that his performance in Saturday’s draw against Russia was not good enough and he has to improve or he will change things up front – and rightly so.
I would not alter anything about England’s starting XI or the system they played in Marseille for their next game in Group B against Wales.
But I would tell Kane – and also Raheem Sterling, whose final ball was yet again very poor – that, although I am going to stick with you, if you do not do better then I will make those changes during the Wales game. Then it is up to them to respond.
‘Vardy should have come on against Russia’
I am a huge fan of Kane, and he has had another fantastic season for Tottenham, but he looked very leggy and tired against Russia on Saturday.
Kane did not have a lot of energy and he did not play well. He did not manage a single touch in the opponents’ penalty area and you have probably already heard what I think about him taking corners, too.
Of course, just because you have one bad game does not mean you are a bad player and Kane will be looking to Hodgson to give him another opportunity. I know I would and I think he will keep his place.
He should do too but Hodgson has a lot of other strong options, particularly in the centre-forward positions.
I think he should have brought Jamie Vardy on for Kane with half an hour to go against Russia, to give us something different in attack – especially because it would have put Vardy’s pace up against their central defenders, who were very old and looked very stiff.
For the time being Vardy will have to wait, but the fact we missed so many chances against Russia will mean that, along with Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford, he will be thinking it might not be long before he gets the nod.
‘Rooney to stay in midfield against Wales’
The England team that started against Russia was the first time Hodgson had used those 11 players together.
Normally you go into a tournament knowing your best XI, after working with them and the system you are going to use in your warm-up games.
But the midfield diamond England used in their last friendly, against Portugal, quite clearly did not work so changes were always going to be made.
The 4-3-3 used in Marseille was a very similar system to the one employed in our win over Germany in March, using seven of the same players.
Wayne Rooney missed that game in Berlin through injury and Saturday’s game was the first time he had played in midfield for England.
He was my man of the match and it was a surprise when he came off when 1-0 up, because he was the best and most experienced player.
Rooney is England’s captain and there was never a time when he was not going to play, it was just a matter of where. He played the new position very well and combined well with Eric Dier and Dele Alli too.
Dier sat in but Rooney and Alli had to decide when to stay and go forward – and they got it right. Rooney got in a few efforts at goal and was unlucky not to score – he was only denied by an excellent save.
‘No need to panic – remember Euro ’96’
England deserved to beat Russia but if you do not take your chances, you get punished. That is exactly what happened with their last-minute equaliser, which was a real kick in the teeth after such a good performance.
But there is no need to panic – you only need to look at what happened to us at Euro ’96 – when we reached the semi-finals – as an example.
We did not produce a sparkling display against Switzerland in our opening game but we also got a 1-1 draw, which was something to build on. The important thing to remember at this stage of a tournament like this is that if you cannot win a game then do not lose it.
When Hodgson and the players analyse the DVD of the Russia game, most of what they will see will be positive, so I do not see the need for dramatic changes against Wales.
Yes, they will have to deal with the threat of Gareth Bale and deny him the space to run in behind the defence but Roy can do that with the system and personnel he used against Russia.
Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan in France.
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