England’s last match against Wales was a Euro 2016 crunch clash but Gareth Southgate is leading a totally different era four years on… the Three Lions boss has ruthlessly axed the old guard and kept faith in the kids
- England face Wales at Wembley tonight, four years on from their Euro 2016 clash
- Gareth Southgate’s made several adjustments to Roy Hodgson’s team since then
- The likes of Joe Hart, Danny Rose and Chris Smalling are nowhere to be seen
- Embedding fresh young talent has become the norm ahead of next year’s Euros
England will welcome Wales to Wembley for their friendly tonight in what will be the first meeting between the two teams since their pivotal clash at Euro 2016.
Four years ago in France, Roy Hodgson’s men came out on top after a stoppage-time winner from Daniel Sturridge handed the Three Lions a group-stage victory over the Welsh after Gareth Bale handed his side the lead just before half-time.
After being jeered off at the break, Hodgson sent on Jamie Vardy and Sturridge in the place of Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, with the decision paying dividends as both men scored to turn the game on its head.
England face Wales on Thursday for the first time since their crunch clash at Euro 2016
Gareth Southgate has made several adjustments to the team Roy Hodgson put out in 2016
Looking back to that game provides an insight into just how much Gareth Southgate has made his stamp since becoming England boss, with his ruthless axing of the old guard has allowed the younger talent to shine.
Many of the men Hodgson named in that starting XI are now nowhere to be seen with just a handful keeping their places.
The first name that is no longer near the squad is that of Joe Hart.
Tottenham’s summer signing didn’t cover himself in glory against Wales four years after his dreadful blunder from a Gareth Bale free-kick gave Chris Coleman’s men the lead.
Having struggled for regular first-team football in the years since then, it came as a surprise when Jose Mourinho decided to offer England’s former No 1 a contract for this season.
In front of him, major changes to England’s backline have been made, with the likes of Danny Rose, Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill now no longer in the national setup.
Tottenham have failed to give Rose a squad number for this season and no longer needed by the Premier League club.
Crystal Palace defender Cahill performed admirably against the Welsh, and nearly got a goal for his efforts in the first half, but has since stepped down from international duty in 2018 to allow new players to come through.
Joe Hart didn’t cover himself in glory against Wales as he struggled to save Bale’s free-kick
Wayne Rooney (right) has since retired while Dele Alli (left) has lost his place in the starting XI
Alongside him, Smalling is another name to no longer feature under Southgate but it must be said that he has impressed while on loan at Roma last season before making the move permanent earlier this week.
It is unlikely that the 30-year-old will feature again but should he keep his performances for Roma up, then another England cap could be on the horizon.
In their places, Southgate has brought in Ben Chilwell at left back, Joe Gomez and Harry Maguire at centre-back while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier have been given opportunities to displace the ageing Kyle Walker, who remains in Southgate’s plans.
In midfield, England’s all-time leading goalscorer in Wayne Rooney has since retired from international football while Dele Alli has fallen out of favour under Southgate following his underwhelming form at Spurs in recent years.
Lallana (left) has endured a torrid time with injuries and is no longer seen as a reliable option
Smalling has not been considered for England lately but his Roma move could change that
Rooney put on a man-of-the-match display against Wales and was a huge influence on the team, with the likes of Kane and Sterling failing to make an impact on the day.
Another notable absentee from England’s starting XI against Wales is Adam Lallana.
Lallana, who helped Liverpool win their first Premier League title last season, has endured a torrid time with injuries over the years and is no longer seen as a reliable option for the national setup.
Eric Dier has kept his place for England after starring at the World Cup in Russia two years later and is now more suited as a centre-back under Mourinho.
Jadon Sancho (R) and Marcus Rashford (L) are expected to help ease the load on Kane up top
And with next summer’s Euros just a matter of months away, Southgate has been keen to bed in new younger talent.
Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Tammy Abraham are expected to help ease the load on Kane and Sterling up top while Declan Rice, Mason Mount and Harry Winks provide different options in midfield.
The team that just edged Wales four years ago has been dismantled and now looks totally unrecognisable – but England fans will be hoping it will be a more convincing display once tournament football finally returns.