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3 talking points from England’s World Cup opener heartbreak

| 15.06.2014

Does Rooney’s face fit?

Wayne Rooney still doesn’t have a World Cup goal to his name after failing to convert a gilt-edged chance in the second half, but has broken his assist duck thanks to a beaut of a cross from the left for Daniel Sturridge’s equaliser.

As England’s unquestionable bright spark, Sterling is unlikely to switch back to the wing from the No.10 role he played against Italy, as his pace typifies the style Hodgson is looking to play.

Rooney was defensively culpable when playing on the left and was immediately switched with Danny Welbeck after half-time as Hodgson tried to nullify Italy’s joy down that side. It was the Manchester United man’s lack of back-tracking that allowed him the space to feed Sturridge, but with better defensive workhorses available Rooney could be dispensed with.

Hodgson’s style leaves England prone

Using natural strikers like Rooney and Welbeck as wide-men has obvious benefits in attack, allowing England to play fluid football, with any of the front four able to interchange.

However, with England’s defensive unit far less exciting than their attacking brethren, Hodgson perhaps needs to consider using Adam Lallana and James Milner, players more used to helping out without the ball, to give his full-backs better protection.

Italy enjoyed countless attacks down their right flank with Rooney playing on the left, and scored their winner after the Manchester United teammates had swapped wings, thanks to some poor Welbeck positioning.

What changes for Uruguay

In all likelihood, Luis Suarez will be back in Uruguay’s line-up when England face them on Thursday. Los Charruas have an entirely different footballing philosophy to Italy and pose new questions to the Three Lions in a game England are 6/4 to win.

The back five, plus Gerrard, are unlikely to rotate leaving any player from Henderson forward culpable. Rooney should be the man at highest risk of losing his place, but is the manager bold enough to drop him?

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.