Euro 2016: Changes on the cards as Roy Hodgson turns his tactical attention to rivals Wales
England manager Roy Hodgson has not ruled out another tactical switch after Saturday's 1-1 draw against Russia.
Eric Dier’s clinical 73rd-minute free-kick looked to have given England their first victory in the opening match of a European Championship, only for Vasili Berezutsky to head home a stoppage-time equaliser.
That was probably harsh on Hodgson’s side, who dictated terms in the first half in Marseille and appeared largely in control of the situation after Dier struck.
Victory would have vindicated the manager’s decision to revert to 4-3-3, recalling Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling and deploying Wayne Rooney in midfield for the first time in his long international career.
Hodgson saw plenty of positives prior to Berezutsky’s hammer blow at the Stade Velodrome but stressed the system and personnel were under constant review ahead of Thursday’s key game against Wales.
Leicester’s title-winning striker Jamie Vardy was an unused substitute in the game, and will surely occupy his manager’s thoughts in the coming days.
“We think about it all the time,” he said.
“The team depends upon how you see individuals you are working with, and how you build a team to make best use of their qualities.
“We thought, going into this game, we’d been pleased with Raheem and Adam, and with Harry Kane, so we thought that would be our best attacking option.
“We could change it for the next games.
“When we analyse the game, and start preparing for the next game, there’ll be a lot of things that we’ll want to take forward and, hopefully, we’ll be able to put the memory of that last minute goal behind us.
“It won’t take us long to get over it.”
Hodgson admitted trying to replicate a previous iteration of the formation, used during the team’s 100 per cent winning run in qualification.
“Lallana and Sterling and Kane ... that’s a direct replica of Sterling, (Danny) Welbeck and Rooney, which we were using for long periods ahead of these finals,” he said.
“We’ve been playing this system (and) if you take the successful period, we’ve had with two defeats in over 20 games.”
The roller-coaster nature of the evening was even more pronounced for Dier.
Remarkably the 22-year-old was making a first competitive appearance for his country and was on the verge of a perfect day when he hammered home from the edge of the area.
He then joined his team-mates in watching helplessly as victory slipped through England’s fingers, coming down to earth with the cruellest of bumps.
“Our emotions went from a high to a low pretty quickly,” he admitted.
“Obviously it’s disappointing because we were so close to an important and big win in our first game. But this is tournament football. We have more games to look forward to. We have to pick ourselves up and look forward.”
Reflecting on the moment when he left the net bulging with the sweetest strike of his professional career Dier, who collected David Beckham’s autograph when he lived in Portugal during Euro 2004, added: “It’s probably one of the best moments I’ve had in football, a fantastic moment.
“I’d have taken a win with anyone else scoring, but I’m happy to have scored and just disappointed we didn’t win it.
“(David) Beckham was one of the best at those free-kicks and I’ve seen lots of clips of his free-kicks. I’ve practised them a lot.”
Hodgson had taken something of a gamble, albeit an expected one, with his starting XI, using Rooney as a midfielder for the first time in his international career. But the 30-year-old turned in a tidy performance and when he was substituted for Jack Wilshere, the lead was intact.
“With the control we had in the game and Jack on the bench, we thought we had the luxury of taking him off the field and Jack could do a similar job,” said Hodgson. “We honestly believed we were not in great difficulties and we’d see the game out at 1-0.”