Former Pompey keeper David James assess England’s Euro 2016 chances

Departed: England manager Roy Hodgson
Departed: England manager Roy Hodgson
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss: Signs of progress are there

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The News continues it’s countdown to Euro 2016 with former Pompey FA Cup winner and England goalkeeper David James.

The Blues hall-of-Famer caught up with sports writer Jeff Marshman this week to discuss the Three Lions’ tournament hopes, Roy Hodgson’s squad selection and Wayne Rooney’s reinvention as a midfielder, among others...

Former Pompey and England goalkeeper David James

Former Pompey and England goalkeeper David James

Jamo on... Roy’s boys

Am I happy with the squad?

Yes, because I am happy with the manager and I don’t think Roy Hodgson was ever going to pick a bad squad.

With regards to selection, of course there are question marks that everyone will raise over one or two selections.

England skipper Wayne Rooney

England skipper Wayne Rooney

At the start, Marcus Rashford being called into the squad was a question.

But, strewth, the lad has done so well and when he scored on his debut it justified him being in there.

The Danny Drinkwater omission was a surprise based on the fact that Jamie Vardy has played with him all season and they have had the success of winning the Premier League together.

It becomes one of those second-nature things in football when you know that the guy you are passing to or receiving from is going to play in a certain way.

You would imagine Drinkwater and Vardy would have had that kind of connection, but that’s Roy’s call.

Jamo on... The challenge ahead

It is going to be tough, although obviously I want England to win!

However, we will have to be better than the likes of Spain and a Belgium side who seem to have clicked again after half of their English-based players didn’t have a particularly great season.

Spain are probably the favourites, in my opinion, but Germany, as always, will be strong and France are the home nation.

Outside of the obvious, you look at Sweden and it is interesting with John Guidetti scoring the other day for them.

Sweden won the Euro under-21s last year and you look at England and their success at Toulon recently and wonder whether that is going to help them in future competitions?

Obviously, for us, we will not see that in this one because none of them are involved.

Sweden has a number of young players who have experienced success (six of the under-21 winners have been named in their squad of 23), and I will be interested to see if there is any correlation in that they are going to go on and be successful at senior level.

It is going to be a wonderful competition.

Jamo on... The England defence

Romania had the best defensive record in qualifying and could be a dark horse.

This is the beauty of the game.

You look at Greece back in 2004 – no-one even talked about them until they were in the semi-finals and then the next thing you know, they are winning it.

That was built from a good defensive record.

One of the big questions with England and Roy’s squad selection was always going to be how good is the defence?

I am trying to work out on what basis that is.

Because, other than Romania, nobody had a better defensive record in qualification than England.

It’s easy to say that their qualifying group wasn’t tough.

But every nation had the same situation, we had to play some strong sides and some considerably weaker opponents in the qualification process.

Jamo on... The pressure paradox

I played in the golden generation which I think has become a bit of a cliche of late – it was never referred to as the golden generation when we were playing.

We have adopted that tag later on in the years.

In terms of expectation this time round, I like the squad and I like the individual players within it.

But the Tottenham quintet I like, because there is that high level of continuity.

Eric Dier in the holding defensive role will also be key because he is the man who will get us out of trouble.

There will be moments in the competition, particularly in the latter stages and the knock-out rounds, where we will be under pressure and that key pass from Dier could set Harry Kane up for the winner.

Jamo on... Rooney’s reinvention

Of course I would play Wayne Rooney.

But I think he is a midfielder.

Rooney covers so much ground like any central midfielder but, arguably, you could even have him as a defensive one because of his ability to play long balls, which is something Dier doesn’t do.

Rooney also defends a lot for someone who is an attacking midfielder.

I think with the forward line we have got we don’t necessarily need him up front.

Especially as an out-and-out striker.

You have the likes of Vardy and Rashford with their pace and then you’ve got the goalscoring prowess of Kane as well.

Wayne’s knowledge of the game has been clear even from a teenager – you watch him as a centre-froward for England back in the early 2000s and he was running back to pick the ball up on the edge of the box because he understood the game wasn’t working.

What he didn’t have back then, though, was the discipline to stay up front.

Now, in a midfield role, he has got that discipline because he can go box to box

I think he is crucial.

He is one of, if not, the best passer we have got.