Paddy Power ambassador Paul Ince is a man who knows a thing or two about winning football matches. The former West Ham, Manchester United, Liverpool and Inter Milan midfield general has a wing of his luxurious mansion dedicated to his trophies. Probably. It’s hard to tell on Zoom.
Ince won 53 caps for England but never tasted glory on the international stage. Le Tournoi still doesn’t count, apparently. However, he thinks Gareth Southgate’s current crop have the best chance they’ve had to go and win some proper silverware for a long time. And he’s outlined what exactly is required for them to go all the way.
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“To win these tournaments you’ve got to have all the ingredients,” Ince explains. “You can’t have anything missing. Whether it’s team spirit, players coming in on form and a bit of luck, you know, discipline. There’s a lot of combinations that you need to win a big tournament.
“When I see this England side now I think we’re getting there. We’ve got a nice balance: youth, pace, speed and players who are coming in on form. When I played, sometimes I’d think, ‘He’s playing because he played well last time for England but his club form is not that great’.
“But now we’ve got Mason Mount who’s absolutely flying, Phil Foden, absolutely flying. We’ve got players now who are starting and are bang in form just at the right time and I think that’s a massive, massive thing.
When you go to these big tournaments, you’ve got to go in with everybody on form.
Sterling’s time to shine
It’s one thing to have players in form, but Southgate has another problem fitting his battery of attacking talent in to just 11 positions. And that’s not even taking into account all the right-backs.
But Ince thinks this season’s forgotten man, Raheem Sterling, could keep his place in the England starting XI ahead of the bright-young thing who has displaced him at Manchester City, Phil Foden, because he’s played well for Southgate countless times before.
“Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling have done it before for England over the years,” Ince continues, “That’s been more or less the top three who have been playing. Sterling’s not been playing because Foden’s been that good, but let’s not forget that Sterling’s still a fantastic player and always plays in that position.
“I don’t think Southgate can drop Sterling and that’s Southy’s decision to make. You can look at the club form and say, Sterling’s not playing, Foden’s doing great. But, as a manager, sometimes you look at what they’ve done for you previously and what they’ve done in the last three or four games.
“If Sterling, Rashford and Kane, if that’s his top three, I can’t see that changing. Whether he picks a Foden as a No.10 instead of Mount, I don’t know. It depends whether he goes with one midfielder or two sitting. I just feel Rashford is a left-sided player, not a centre forward.”
Euro 2020 kicks off on the 11th of June with Italy facing Turkey. England are Paddy’s favourites to win the competition and you can check out our full array of markets here.
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