England and Pickford need to play out from the back again and Man Utd star should make shock start, says Jack Wilshere

England and Pickford need to play out from the back again and Man Utd star should make shock start, says Jack Wilshere

ENGLAND need to find the courage and confidence to start playing out from the back again.

That was the approach that brought them success and they seemed to be getting better at it.

Darren FletcherSunSport’s Euro 2024 expert Jack Wilshere[/caption]

AFPWilshere has urged Jordan Pickford to start playing out from the back[/caption]

But in the last two games they have tried it less and Jordan Pickford has been going long more often.

Here’s a simple way of looking at it: Serbia and Denmark played with five at the back and five outfield players pressing — and Denmark did it really well.

If we have three up front, we have a seven-to-five advantage — or eight-to-five if you include the keeper as part of the build-up.

But to be successful in that phase, you have to have a structure.

Once you are in that structure, you can start to move, coming low, or pulling wide, to open up a passing lane.

I have been in squads with Gareth Southgate and Steve Holland. I know they will have been working on patterns.

Most of the players in the squad play that way with their clubs.

They get on the ball and know where the next pass is going because they work on it until it becomes a habit.

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Maybe there’s too much freedom in the England structure. Maybe it’s players working their way into their positions. Probably a bit of both.

John Stones and Kyle Walker play together for Manchester City but the picture ahead of them with England is very different.

Marc Guehi and Kieran Trippier are building a relationship but them both being right-footed changes the build-up phase, too.

But mostly I think the lack of structure and playing out from the back was dictated by how the first two games went.

The opponents grew in confidence and started to press a little bit higher.

You are going to make mistakes and the pressure at international level, especially at tournaments, is greater.

With everything that has been happening around the team, they have ended up trying to eliminate risk by playing it longer.

Quite often it’s come from our own open play.

We’ve been looking for solutions and ended up going back to Jordan and there’s no option, we’re under a bit of pressure and he has to go long.

People have highlighted moments against Denmark when that happened, even though players were offering the short pass.

I’d say three things: Firstly, we know Jordan can play out for England because he has done it before.

Secondly, Jordan is good at reading the game.

Sometimes you do have to trust your goalie that it is the right moment for it, even if it can be frustrating as a midfielder to see the ball going over your head.

Lastly, as a coach, there’s nothing wrong with playing the ball into your last line.

I went to the Belgium-Romania game and Belgium were pressing in a man-for-man shape and being really aggressive, three v three on the last line. At the right time, it’s a good tactic.

But more often than not, playing out through the thirds is the way to go. Then we can arrive in dangerous positions with stable possession.

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Let’s do it, let’s go and be brave and dominate the ball.

Then we can bring Kane into the game, find Phil Foden in the pocket, get Jude Bellingham running in behind.

I reckon Kobbie Mainoo would be the best choice to play alongside Declan Rice.

Mainoo has proved he can hold, he can play on the half-turn and he can get forward.

He has also shown great personality. He was the shining light for Manchester United in a difficult season.

At 19, Mainoo won’t be worrying, ‘This might be my last tournament, I don’t want to make a mistake’.

I reckon Kobbie Mainoo would be the best choice to play alongside Declan Rice.

Jack Wilshere

But it can still be hard for players to find the confidence and courage to play the way they know they can.

As Harry Kane said, some players aren’t used to this level of scrutiny and pressure.

Social media makes it hard to get away from it, so there will be a little bit of performance anxiety around the camp.

This is where the senior players come in and I’m sure they are doing their job.

As far as the outside world is concerned, Kane and Walker had to be the guys to front up to the media.

Inside the group, they have to make sure the players are calm.

I played with Kyle and he’s great around camp, the younger, less experienced players should listen to him.

Like Harry, he’s been there for good and bad moments at tournaments.

Rice is also a leader but he is among the players who have only really seen the good side of it.

The message from the manager and coaches will be to keep calm.

This game, against what I think is a very beatable team in Slovenia, is a good chance to turn the corner.

I genuinely believe that if we can get that momentum and confidence, we still have a chance of winning this tournament.

One thing that will help is the return of left-back Luke Shaw, who is fit enough to train with the squad.

It’s good news for Southgate, for the team and Foden in particular. And for Luke, of course.

We’ve been mates since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

We don’t know if he’s fit to start yet but as soon as he is, I would play him.

Luke will bring the best out of Foden. He provides natural width, he can go on the outside, get crosses in and create space and time for Foden.

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