Goalkeeper Joe Hart Dismisses Criticism After Latest England Show

A defeat against Italy at Wembley was the only stain on a near-perfect run in the qualifiers for Glenn Hoddle's side, with a goalless draw against the same opponents in Rome sealing England's place at the finals. The victor of duel must successfully contest two more elimination games against fourth of CONCACAF Continental Association of North and Central America and Caribbean to secure ticket for final tournament in Russian Federation in coming summer.

Southgate said: "Slovenia defended resolutely and we weren't as sharp as we'd like to be". Last November there was a 2-2 draw with Spain, when England were 2-0 up until the 89th minute.

But Cahill insisted: "Those are things we can learn".

I've gone for Joe Hart in goal, with a back three in front of him consisting of Jones, Stones and Cahill. What on earth is going on with England and set pieces?

Southgate desperately needs his untested midfielders to show that they can cut it at this level of the game so that some confidence can be restored in the current squad.

England's plodding display meant supporters found attempts to aim paper planes at the pitch more entertaining than matters on the field at sparsely-filled Wembley.

Still, the big question is whether Southgate can succeed where Roy Hodgson and all of his recent predecessors failed by ensuring that England at least look and feel the part when they turn up in Russian Federation. Germany started the game on a high note as they piled up pressure on Northern Ireland's half and went on to score two goals in the span of twenty-one minutes. Sir Alf Ramsey's side led 2-0 before losing 3-2, with Gerd Müller's goal ending England's hopes of retaining the Jules Rimet trophy. When Spurs or England loses possession, he becomes the first defender.

Can Daniel Sturridge re-establish himself with England?

The wing-backs pick themselves.

KYLE WALKER: Struggled both with passing and positional play.

JORDAN HENDERSON: Not a good night at all for the captain. It was a grim affair, devoid of the killer instinct and effectiveness associated with top worldwide teams.

The Three Lions have blitzed group F and have only conceded three goals in nine matches, but their first-choice goalkeeper remains a hot topic. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have played in a three-man defence for Manchester United, albeit occasionally, and should have few problems adjusting. Fearless failure against the best has given way to insipid displays and embarrassing exits.

Despite the uninspiring nature of the victory someone has still got to rate these players...

In fact, the main question should be why Southgate, a cultured centre-back well-suited to the three-man defence in his playing days, hasn't been using the three-man defence all along. What would it take for England to produce a moment like the 4-1, or to reach as far as a semi-finals?

Jack Wilshere was on the verge of an England call up for the current worldwide break, despite having not played a minute of Premier League football this season.

  • Joanne Flowers