Player Ratings From England 5 San Marino 0

It's never easy to play against a team that keep 10 men behind the ball, but England persevered on Friday with Cleverley, Rooney and Welbeck all impressing...

Last Updated: 13/10/12 at 11:40 Post Comment

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Joe Hart
A superb display to confirm his position as England's undisputed number one. He looked wonderful in red (he was wearing red, right?) and didn't put a foot wrong all night. A class act.


Leighton Baines
If Baines was England's first-choice left-back, we'd all be happy. His positioning is excellent, he's bright going forward - as he demonstrated for 90 minutes against San Marino - and he has a wonderful retro haircut. But despite his superior mop, Baines just isn't going to replace Ashley Cole in the starting line-up before the next World Cup. Not unless Cole is injured or has a catastrophic run of form. The only real hope for the Everton man is that Cole rejects the reported one-year contract extension Chelsea have offered him and a move to another club causes his performances to drop. If that unlikely scenario occurs, Roy Hodgson knows he has the perfect cover in Baines.


Gary Cahill
No sooner had I noted that Cahill offers England a goal-scoring threat than the Chelsea defender sliced a brilliant chance to grab his third strike in just 11 international appearances. The centre-back had almost nothing to do in terms of defensive duties, but he worked the ball quickly to the midfield to try and maintain the team's momentum. Hodgson is clearly a big fan of Cahill and the 26-year-old was in line to partner John Terry at Euro 2012 before injury cruelly denied him the opportunity. As England's new first-choice centre-back, he's certain to start again against Poland on Tuesday.


Phil Jagielka
Considering the Everton defender started the San Marino match, one might presume Hodgson's intention is to mould a Jagielka/Cahill partnership, now Terry has retired and with Joleon Lescott in and out of the Man City team so far this season. While Jagielka was untested at Wembley on Friday, he has always looked solid for England and was impressive alongside Lescott in the 1-0 win over Spain last November. Terry's decision to step aside presents the 30-year-old with his first real opportunity to secure a starting spot and he will be hoping for another chance to convince Hodgson of his worth against Poland.


Kyle Walker
Given the nature of the game, Walker could have nipped off for half an hour to fetch Jagielka a bowl of soup. The Spurs defender faces a tough challenge to usurp Glen Johnson as England's first-choice right-back and he certainly didn't show enough against San Marino to worry the Liverpool man. He was willing to get forward and link up with Aaron Lennon, but ultimately the 22-year-old created very little. Along with Micah Richards, Walker has to do a lot more if he's to force his way into Hodgson's first XI.


Michael Carrick
Occasionally Carrick was guilty of not moving the ball quickly enough in the first half, but on the whole he helped to chip away at the wall of blue shirts and linked up well with Wayne Rooney. The midfielder came close to grabbing his first England goal with a stunning strike that hit the bar and almost finished off a flowing move just after half-time following Danny Welbeck's neat flick and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's dummy. It's likely Frank Lampard will return against Poland if he recovers from his knee injury, but Carrick offers a proven alternative for Hodgson and the advantage of a good understanding with Tom Cleverley. Perhaps the manager hinted that Carrick will start by removing him after 66 minutes.


Tom Cleverley
It was a difficult match for England's midfield, but Cleverley was superb, creating chance after chance and assisting two of the team's five goals. The 23-year-old has made a brilliant start to his international career and his rise is helping Hodgson to tweak his system as the manager seeks to improve the team's ball retention. Although Cleverley missed a couple of opportunities to score himself, he displayed his quality with an incisive pass to Aaron Lennon for Welbeck's first and quick feet in a crowded penalty area to lay on Oxlade-Chamberlain's strike. I don't want to get too carried away, but his growing contribution is the biggest positive for England since Jack Wilshere's breakthrough.


Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Oxlade-Chamberlain was England's brightest spark in the first half and he repeatedly tested Aldo Simoncini in the San Marino goal, with five of his six shots hitting the target. England needed the winger's willingness to shoot to add purpose to their play and he took his goal wonderfully. With Walcott now an injury doubt, Oxlade-Chamberlain should start on one of the wings against Poland. Considering his all-round work-rate, he's a far better option than Adam Johnson at the moment.


Theo Walcott
Walcott didn't have enough time to make an impression, but he will have been encouraged that he started ahead of Aaron Lennon despite being relegated to the bench at Arsenal this season.


Wayne Rooney
Although he was facing a terrible standard of opposition, Rooney was still excellent in his 73 minutes leading England. In the past, the 26-year-old may have grown frustrated at the team's struggle to break down San Marino's defensive wall, but on this occasion he was remarkably patient and his calmness pervaded the team's approach. Rooney has looked sharp since his return from injury and he will have been boosted by the delightful finish for his second goal. The stand-in captain is vital to beating Poland on Tuesday, when he may resume his partnership with Welbeck.


Danny Welbeck
Welbeck's two strikes were his first goals of the season, and he took both chances superbly. There are still question marks as to whether the 21-year-old has enough quality to make a real impression with Manchester United and England, but so far he is proving to be worthy of a place in Hodgson's squad. As well as grabbing a brace, Welbeck created five opportunities for teammates, won the penalty for Rooney, and didn't show any signs of a lack of confidence despite a slow start to the season.


SUBS

Aaron Lennon (for Walcott, 10)
It was the perfect match for Lennon to make his long-awaited England return after being left out of the international set-up since World Cup 2010. The Spurs winger demonstrated his composure with two assists and was a constant threat down the right. He may have done just enough to convince Hodgson that he's worthy of a start on Tuesday.


Jonjo Shelvey (for Carrick, 66)
I wrote here that Shelvey's performances for Liverpool are good news for Hodgson and England and the midfielder was lively on his debut. A neat drop of the shoulder created a shooting chance that he possibly should have converted, but the 20-year-old showed enough in his first appearance to suggest he will be given further opportunities to impress.


Andy Carroll (for Rooney, 73)
The striker only managed 10 touches in his 20 minutes on the pitch, but he will be a useful option from the bench against Poland.

Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.

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