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England form lacks value

England will be looking to maintain their 100% record this evening, with a win in Lithuania rounding off a perfect qualifying campaign, leading into the European Championships in France next summer.

The achievement will secure a top seed position in next summers tournament and book England’s place in history, as only the sixth team to win every game during the qualifying stage.

Roy Hodgson will make England history with a win tonight

Roy Hodgson will make England history with a win tonight

The current form of the national team is interesting for a number of reasons, however it is tough to evaluate the significance of such an impressive run, when the strength of opposition is taken into account.

Other than Switzerland, who sit just two places behind England in the current FIFA World Rankings, the four remaining teams in Group E have an average ranking of 111 between them, showing the calibre of opponent England have had to face on route to major tournament qualification.

Yes it’s true, you can only beat the team put in front of you. However, when faced with some of the continents strongest outfits in June/July next year, the intensity is likely to be on another level to what the current crop of players have been used to.

It’s not all pessimism though, there are significant positives to be taken from the unbeaten run. Early qualification has allowed manager Roy Hodgson to experiment within the England squad, using a total of 31 players during the nine game streak that preceded tonight’s conclusion.

It would be hard to find a previous England squad that contains such youth throughout, with a handful of players finding themselves within the national team set-up so early on in their career.

Dele Alli was playing for MK Dons in League One last season, yet the Tottenham midfielder is likely to find himself in the starting line-up for this evening’s game, showing the lack of experience that Hodgson is willing to gamble on.

Dele Alli is likely to feature in Lithuania this evening

Dele Alli is likely to feature in Lithuania this evening

Hodgson’s squad selection has not only been tainted with youth, the process has also focused upon rewarding players that are in form for their club sides, no matter what experience they have on the international stage.

Many of the current England squad have three or four major tournaments left in them, which bodes very well for the future, however Euro 2016 may be one step too soon.

After Lithuania this evening, a hat-trick of high profile friendlies await England over the following months, as they travel to Spain and Germany either side of a Wembley showdown with France.

Despite only being friendlies, these games will provide stern tests for the current batch of players that have become so accustomed to winning games of football.

But first, England must finish the job this evening in Lithuania and send a message to the rest of world football.

Whether that message is acknowledged, well that is certainly up for debate.

Watch Lithuania vs England tonight live on ITV from 7.15pm

 

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