Judging England’s Players v San Marino

Date published: Saturday 5th September 2015 6:24

How did James Milner manage to look out of his depth? Jonjo Shelvey definitely caught the eye even if Wayne Rooney grabs all the headlines. We don’t do numbers, people.

JOE HART: Dealt with San Marino’s attacking threat with what we are obliged to call ‘aplomb’. Also equanimity, nonchalance and tact (not sure about that, online thesaurus). We wrote that before he had to do a little silly ‘double claim’ thing.

NATHANIEL CLYNE: Caught the eye rather less than the marauding Luke Shaw and was even obliged to do some actual defending at times. Unfortunately for Clyne, 90 strolling minutes against San Marino will not convince an oddly sceptical Roy Hodgson that he is a better right-back than Phil Jones.

JOHN STONES: Exactly the right game to give Stones his first England game at centre-half. Stepped forward when allowed (when was he not allowed?) and played simple short passes, largely to Jonjo Shelvey. Then came the lapse of concentration that had the whole nation saying ’40 f***ing million?’ in unison.

PHIL JAGIELKA: When you hit 33, it’s nice to have a stroll on a Saturday evening.

LUKE SHAW: Clearly enjoyed the chance to play as an auxiliary winger and it was his perfect ball down the left that released Wayne Rooney for an early chance and his searching cross that created Own Goal’s 49th goal in an England shirt. Could be England’s left-back for the next 12-13 years.

JONJO SHELVEY: Lovely to see a player rewarded for his club form and then reproduce said club form at this lower level. It may have been ‘only San Marino’ but Shelvey displayed his full range of passing and looks like a genuine candidate for that withdrawn midfield role that has been earmarked for the perma-crocked Jack Wilshere. Lovely assist for Harry Kane’s equally lovely dink.

JAMES MILNER: Poor from Milner. It takes some effort to struggle against San Marino, but Milner somehow managed to spend 57 minutes looking out of his depth against some of the world’s worst international footballers. Giving away four fouls against San Marino in 57 minutes? We would have thought it impossible.

ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN: The most dynamic of England’s attacking players, Oxlade-Chamberlain made it his business to take on San Marino’s left-back, get to the byline and put in (largely accurate) crosses. One of them led to Ross Barkley’s goal. Already a Hodgson favourite, the Ox will have pleased Sir again.

ROSS BARKLEY: A mixed bag from Barkley. Initially struggled with operating in very little space just behind Rooney and looked far, far better when he dropped deeper in search of more space. The goal/assist double certainly looks flattering after that initial 45 minutes.

JAMIE VARDY: Looks willing, runs the channels, doesn’t look remotely like an international footballer.

WAYNE ROONEY: “It’s a lovely way for Wayne to equal Bobby Charlton’s record,” said Glenn Hoddle. A dodgy penalty against San Marino – in your face, Charlton. Also equalled Kyle Lafferty’s total of six goals in Euro 2016 qualifying. Which probably means more. Other than the goal that will hog all the headlines, he brought his club form to England duty – there were poor touches, errant passing and some blatant irkage when he was substituted before the goals began to flow.


FABIAN DELPH (on for Milner, 58): Created as many chances (3) in 33 minutes as any other England player in the whole match. Dangerous ball across the box to claim an assist for Theo Walcott’s first.

HARRY KANE (on for Rooney, 58): Ah, so he can still score goals. Can he score all the goals for Tottenham now?

THEO WALCOTT (on for Oxlade-Chamberlain, 67): ‘Nobody gets the 4th & 6th goals in a dead rubber like Theo Walcott’ was the tweet from celebrated wag (not WAG) David Hartrick. True dat.

Sarah Winterburn

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