Former England manager Glenn Hoddle believes the team would be better off with Tom Huddlestone as their holding midfielder rather than with Jack Wilshere forced into the position.
The 22-year-old Arsenal talisman assumed the role in Roy Hodgson’s new-look diamond formation for last month’s opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland, looking solid if unspectacular in the 2-0 win, amid claims that he could become the side’s own Andrea Pirlo or Javier Mascherano.
He was pushed out onto the left as James Milner started at the position for the 5-0 thumping of San Marino, before dropping deeper later in the game, but Hoddle remains unconvinced that Wilshere is a disciplined enough passer to succeed in the slot against future superior opposition.
‘The thing is that he had nobody putting him under real pressure [against San Marino], so he can play passes forward, but when there’s pressure is when he looks to dribble,’ he told ITV.
‘If he gets someone faced up and closing him down then he’ll try and beat him, which is what happened against Switzerland. If you empty that area, against tournament opposition, you’re asking for trouble. You won’t get a good judgement from these games.’
|Team||Pass / apps||Pass Acc||Poss Lost / apps||Tackle / apps||Tackle Acc||Duel Won / apps||Duel Success||Interception / apps||Apps||Mins|
Signing for Hull for £5.25 million last summer after making 209 total appearances in eight seasons at Tottenham Hotspur, Huddlestone’s recent performances have seen his name brought up on numerous occasions in England discussion, but a recall continues to elude him.
Having earned four caps between 2009 and 2012, his slick passing once even earned comparisons to Hoddle and, with Hodgson still experimenting with his setup after the disastrous World Cup in Brazil, the former Spurs boss thinks the Tigers ace is more than deserving of a second look.
‘I’d say Tom Huddlestone should still be there,’ he said. ‘We shouldn’t have thrown him out the window.
‘As a holding player, if they’re going to play one who can spray it about, he’s the best passer England have got now Gerrard’s gone, in my opinion. Both long and short.’
After Thursday night’s straightforward win, England will now travel to Tallin to face Estonia on Sunday in their third Group E qualifier, but it remains to be seen what plans Hodgson has in store for the holding role.