England 1 Denmark 0: Five things we learned from narrow victory, including Jack Wilshere must show his good side

The Three Lions also showed how essential a fit Rooney is to their aspirations

WEMBLEY

Wilshere must ensure his good side shines through

There is often a risk when playing Jack Wilshere – not least to himself – but he showed again that it is, on balance, probably worthwhile.

The opening minutes, in which Wilshere charged around, flying into tackles, felt as if they were not going to end happily.

With his first serious bit of action in the game, Wilshere gifted the ball to Nicklas Bendtner and then threw himself into a futile tackle, trying to win it back. That was dangerous enough but when, minutes later, he stretched into a 50-50 challenge with Daniel Agger, he initially appeared to have suffered a bad knock to his right ankle, and it came as some surprise that he could continue.

But he did carry on and, until his substitution in the 58th minute, looked like one of the England players likelier to spark something into happening. Indeed, he was far more willing to take chances than Jordan Henderson. That, with Wilshere, is the good side and the bad.

England need a fit Rooney to spark into life in Brazil

It barely needs saying, but tonight the evidence was clearer than ever: England need a fit, sharp Wayne Rooney if they are to have even the slightest chance of getting out of the World Cup group stages.

On a good day – and Rooney has had many for England in the last few years – the gulf in class between him and England’s next-best player is striking. Tonight, when Rooney was poor, the lack of a single world-class talent was even more glaring.

When Rooney is good he directs all of England’s attacks – showing for the ball, finding space, playing clever angles and scoring goals. He looked like a man worn down by a disheartening club campaign with Manchester United, devoid of all spark and wit, and with an agricultural first touch.

His main attacking contributions were two poor free-kicks and two shots over the crossbar. England will certainly need more in Brazil if they are to make progress in the tournament.

Lallana has game-changing vision absent in team-mates

The fact Adam Lallana’s skills – ambidexterity, imagination, vision, patience – mark him out from his peers was clear with a 30-minute substitute appearance that must push him towards the front of the queue for places available to game-changing players in England’s squad.

Lallana opened up avenues of attack that England had not even contemplated before. He made the winning goal, taking the ball on the edge of the box, shuffling into space before playing the perfect cross on to the forehead of Daniel Sturridge. Before then there was also a delightful Cruyff turn inside the penalty area.

Sturridge yet to convince with Welbeck a better bet

Fitting Rooney and Sturridge together is fairly near the top of Roy Hodgson’s list of tasks. Rooney’s profile and Sturridge’s form demand their inclusion, but the 4-4-2 which won England their final World Cup qualifiers will not always be appropriate. So Hodgson tried to use Sturridge wide of Rooney in a front three.

The problem for Sturridge, despite his goal, is that Danny Welbeck appears a better fit for that role. Sturridge struggled to combine well with his team-mates. Hodgson could use Sturridge and Welbeck in tandem, but with Raheem Sterling and Lallana impressing, Sturridge’s options may be limited to up front or on the bench.

Ashley Cole must still be one of Hodgson’s main men

England’s senior centre-back, Phil Jagielka, was missing, and their first-choice left-back Leighton Baines was left on the bench. England did not look like a team who could afford to leave a full-back capped 106 times at home  in June.

The communication across the back line was not perfect. Gary Cahill badly misjudged one long ball in the first half, had to cover to block a shot after leaving too much space between him and Chris Smalling, and Denmark nearly got a far-post equaliser from a late free-kick.

In Brazil England will face teams with far more attacking talent. Even though they should have Jagielka and Baines in the team, if they need an alternative left-back, they would surely rather have a man playing his sixth major tournament and not his first.

 

Suggested Topics
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat