Jamie Carragher has encouraged Gareth Southgate to omit Raheem Sterling from England’s starting XI to accommodate Marcus Rashford against Panama on Sunday.
The Manchester City forward proved ineffective going forward down the centre against Tunisia, spurning a golden chance laid on a plate for him by Jesse Lingard in the opening stages.
Rashford, on the other hand, was incisive from the bench, driving forward effectively and helping to lay the platform for a late Harry Kane winner.
And Carragher, writing in a column for the Telegraph, opined that Southgate ought to give Rashford a run out against Panama on Sunday afternoon.
“At the moment, England are effectively playing with three number 10s, even though none of them are what you would describe as the classic versions of this position,” he wrote.
“All rely on their movement and pace rather than ability to open up defences with a cute pass. It makes Sterling’s inclusion slightly illogical. Lingard and Alli are playing the roles of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva at Manchester City – what is now described as a ‘false 8’ – but with different skill sets.
“It is a central midfield position but more attacking than conventional. For City, Sterling has been most effective starting out wide and drifting in within Pep Guardiola’s 4-3-3 – he is more comfortable picking up possession when facing goal rather than with the defender at his back.
“There is no doubt he is capable of doing a job, but if there are long periods when Sterling is a striker surely it makes more sense to use Rashford or Jamie Vardy?”
The sight of Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli springing forward, the ball gliding between them and Harry Kane and up the pitch in piercing fashion, was a far cry from anything England fans have seen from their team at major tournaments.
And in the middle of that was Sterling, whose job was to support Kane as a floating No.10, sometimes dropping deep and sometimes racing into the box. He enjoyed some moments of penetration but, bit by bit, his influence faded as Tunisia dropped further back.
The sight of Rashford running into the heart of Tunisia’s back four provided an immediate and sharp contrast – and perhaps, going forward, a better alternative to Sterling for when it comes to supporting Kane.