With games against Bulgaria and Kosovo coming up in the next few weeks, Gareth Southgate has a lot to ponder as England manager these days.
One of which should be the future of Dele Alli’s position in the side according to England legend Paul Ince.
The Tottenham man seemed to be an immovable object in the starting XI of the Three Lions during the World Cup in 2018, but a succession of injuries and poor form have called his future in the side into question.
In an exclusive interview with Paddy Power News, Ince, who was capped 53 by England, even went as far as suggesting a replacement for the 23-year-old Spurs attacking midfielder.
“On form, Leicester’s James Maddison certainly has a case to start in front of Dele Alli,” said Incey.
“He came back on Sunday against Arsenal, but Alli had not played any of the season before that. If he’s not played all season, how can you put Dele Alli in the squad?
You need to be playing for your club, but Dele hasn’t been all season and now he’s in the squad.
“It doesn’t sit right with me, but it is what it is. Maddison should start because he’s been exceptional for Leicester so far this season.
Having got within touching distance of winning Euro 96 as a player, Ince know how hard it is to play with the weight of the nation on his broad shoulders.
In the same team as Incey in that fabled Euro 96 semi-final defeat to Germany was a certain Gareth Southgate, who ended up missing a penalty to end England’s hopes of winning a second major trophy on home soil. When asked what success for the Three Lions at the upcoming Euro 2020 event would look like, the former Manchester United enforcer wasted no time in tackling the question.
“Knowing Southy like I do, he’d look at success as by winning something,” Ince said determinedly.
“It was great for our nation to get to the semi-finals of the (2018) World Cup. It really gave us an uplift and something to believe in. But, that was also a massive, massive chance to win it, because they were playing teams that they expected to beat.
We lost to an ageing Croatian side in the semi-final. We should have been beating them.
“So, as much as it was great, Gareth will have expected to win that World Cup. That was a moment for us. It doesn’t matter how far you go with it; you’ll always expect to win.”
Having worn the famous white strip of his country for eight years – between 1992 and 2000 – Ince is now demanding a bit of silverware from Southgate’s current crop of English youngsters.
“England have to win something,” said the former Inter Milan and Liverpool man.
We are probably one of the biggest footballing nations in the world.
What Gareth’s doing with England is great. He’s bringing in youth, we’ve got some exciting players and I think it’s going well.
“But, you’re only judged on what you win. I don’t care how you do it. I’m not one of those who gets caught up in, ‘oh we got to the semi-finals’.
It’s about winning. It’s not about getting to the quarter-finals or the semis. It’s about winning trophies.”