England 1 Netherlands 2 comment: This England team looked no more than Roy Hodgson's second string

Defeat confirmed manager does not have that much of a hard job to pick first XI at the Euros

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The Independent Football

To be fair to those players following in the footsteps of those who had operated with such verve in Berlin, the Dutch defence was an entirely different proposition.

Daley Blind marshalled it in a way that none in a German shirt managed last Saturday. It was the Manchester United defender who ensured that Daniel Sturridge had arrived and left the stage within an hour, having hardly demanded his right to a place at the centre of England. Sturridge encountered Blind about half a dozen times in that time and the Dutchman emerged as the winner on virtually all of them.

Yet it was the night which confirmed that this side was nothing more than Roy Hodgson’s second string and that the decisions he are faced with ahead of the opening European Championship encounter with Russia in a few months’ time do not look so very difficult.

The defence has revealed presented weaknesses across the course of both friendlies which suggest that it is as exploitable now as it was in Brazil, four years ago. But the Berlin central axis of Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill looks by far the preferable. This was Jon Stones’ chance to scramble such a notion but his dispossession in the phase of play leading to an equaliser spoke of a player too untested to claim the ascendancy over Cahill – imperfect though the Chelsea man may be. Stones’ elegant advances into opposition territory – with an exquisite diagonal ball to send Theo Walcott in – could not disguise a requirement to keep the back door shut as well as open up at the front.

Jamie Vardy puts England in front

That Walcott chance was blocked by the indefatigable Blind, though the Arsenal man’s spin around defender Jetro Willems and advance on goal provided brief visions of the Croatia hat-trick back in the mists of time, seven years ago. On such moments as that are reputations re-forged but Walcott blasted over. Nothing to suggest in this last fortnight that he will be anything but the missing man in France.

Phil Jagielka’s own substitute’s chance was brief, though he could not halt the advance of Vincent Janssen, illegal though that looked too. Without Eric Dier positioned in front of it, as in Berlin, the defence looked far more vulnerable.

Sturridge did little to contribute to that pre-match talk about stepping up to the plate and create more of the pressure on Wayne Rooney which he says his children are clearly applying, by wearing a Jamie Vardy shirt. Fascination will always exist around an individual such as Sturridge: a game-changing star component whose ‘chopping’ trick – going left and right  - in the instant before he scored that goal for Liverpool at Southampton in front of Roy Hodgson, a week or so back, added to the mystery. Nothing of the sort, here.

Narsingh celebrates the winning goal for the Netherlands

Danny Rose provided flickers of encouragement in the opening period. Having balanced a stout defensive effort in Berlin with an ability to advance with invention and confidence, he was one of the standout players of the first half. He levelled a good cross for Sturridge’s best opportunity – a first-time shot which was blocked. But his odd jump at a cross which he waved an arm at in the second half, handing the Dutch their penalty, spoilt the effect and he, too was withdrawn. James Milner was as workmanlike as ever he can be, though without the imagination that can set a campaign on fire. For Ross Barkley, a 20-yard second half was the single-most evidence of a Euros threat: hardly as much as Hodgson had been banking on.

England have cause to give thanks for Chris Smalling, the single in-form defender on whom it looks like they can root a European Championship campaign by marshalling a defence. They have new evidence that Jamie Vardy can win games for them in the blink of an eye, because of his intuition and positioning, more than playing a full part in a game. But the hope for a depth of players who can turn Europe on fire is a forlorn one. Vardy, Harry Kane and Deli Alli – Hodgson’s Berlin guard - are the ones we must look to fire and underpin a new England.