England 3 Scotland 2: Five things we learned from victory at Wembley
Defence among Roy Hodgson's top concerns
Glenn Moore is Football Editor for The Independent and a Uefa B licence holder. Glenn has worked for the Independent newspapers since 1993, initially as cricket correspondent of the Independent on Sunday, subsequently as football correspondent of The Independent before becoming football editor in 2004.
Friday 16 August 2013
1. England are conceding too many goals
At Euro 2012 Roy Hodgson, with a few weeks to organise the team, set out to stifle opponents and was rewarded with clean sheets against Ukraine and Italy. Since then he has tried to make England more expansive with some success but one consequence is a defensive vulnerability with only three clean sheets in 12 games, against San Marino (twice) and Moldova. Steven Gerrard, for all his qualities, is not a screening midfielder but recalling Scott Parker, even if he got back into the Tottenham side, would be a regressive step.
2. Joe Hart's place is far from guaranteed
One reason England look porous in defence is the decline in Joe Hart's displays. The prospect of a decade as his understudy may well have influenced Ben Foster's initial retirement from international duty but increasingly it seems the No 1 shirt is up for grabs. Hart had a moderate season last year and needs a consistent run.
3. There's nothing wrong with thinking short term
Rickie Lambert may be getting on a bit but he is at his peak and will only be 32 during the World Cup next year. Just as Chris Rogers, three years his senior and barely more experienced internationally, has shown in the Ashes, an advanced age (in sporting terms) need not be a bar to breaking through.
4. Danny Welbeck is a goalscorer
Welbeck scored twice in 39 games for Manchester United last season, suggesting he was the heir to Diego Forlan rather than Andy Cole. But for his country he now has six in 17, scoring all types of striker's goals: close quarters, one-on-ones and headers. At Old Trafford he has to, understandably, play second fiddle to Robin van Persie but there are obviously goals in him.
5. Scotland may finally be flowering
Scotland's decline was looking irreversible but under Gordon Strachan a victory in Croatia and Wednesday's invigorating display at Wembley suggest there is hope. Qualification for 2014 has gone but an enlarged Euro 2016 could bring their first tournament since 1998.
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