England set to use Andy Carroll to exploit Sweden's aerial weakness

 

Kiev

The England captain Steven Gerrard said last night that Sweden's aerial vulnerability in defence was a weakness Roy Hodgson had pinpointed, as the manager toyed with a bold move of partnering Andy Carroll with Danny Welbeck here tonight.

Swedish manager Erik Hamren's side have conceded six of their last seven goals and seven out of 11 from headers and Gerrard, who declared tonight's opponents are weaker than France, said that flaw has been picked up in tapes of Sweden's last six games, which the players have watched in preparation. "They have conceded a lot of goals off crosses," Gerrard said. "It is an area we will be trying to concentrate on. We have some wonderful crossers of a ball in our squad. It is one area [of weakness] but there are others as well."

The Independent's columnist Rafael Benitez argues the merits of deploying Carroll against the Swedes in today's paper and the Swedish weakness from crosses clearly stems from uncharacteristically poor organisation. Olof Mellberg, now 34 and in his last tournament for Sweden, is unaccustomed to working with Andreas Granqvist. Such is the indignation in Sweden about the way Mikael Lustig crucially abandoned his post in the 2-1 defeat to Ukraine, that a "mark the post" Twitter campaign has been mounted in the country.

Hodgson's belief in Welbeck, who has impressed, has led him to give serious consideration to keeping him up front, with Ashley Young moving to the left flank in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Though Sweden are only three places behind France, at 17th in the Fifa world rankings, both Gerrard and Hodgson declared England to be favourites for tonight's game. "We have to accept that in the next two games we will not be underdogs and it is up to us to get the results," said Hodgson, who wants the win to avoid making the next two-hour flight into the heat of Donetsk in need of a win against the co-hosts on Tuesday.

Hodgson said that getting in behind defenders with crosses was on his mind for tonight, despite Carroll not impressing in last week's public training session. "In all the clubs I have worked at I have always done a lot of work on players getting in crossing situations and movement for crosses," he said. "Let's hope the message we are trying to put will help us in that area because there is no doubt with a team like Sweden, who are very compact centrally, if we are going to get behind them then getting down the wings and in behind them in the wide areas will be an important facet of our play."

Carroll and Welbeck have never started together for England before and Hodgson urged patience for the untested strike partnerships he was experimenting with. "One would hope people will be patient as it is only three weeks into the job [for me]," he said. "I can't maybe satisfy everyone, maybe other people would like to see more. I think I am realistic and pragmatic."

The France manager Laurent Blanc last night suggested England were not a good side when he said of his own team, who face Ukraine: "Regardless of who starts they just need to relax because we can't repeat the first 30 minutes against England. If we had played against a really good side it would have been over."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future