Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm Happy to Play Anywhere for My Country, Insists Alli

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm Happy to Play Anywhere for My Country, Insists Alli

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley

A PRODUCT of England's mediocrity at Euro 2016 is the existence of genuine competition for places throughout Sam Allardyce's first England team yet Dele Alli must feel he has an unfair fight on his hands.

Allardyce admitted as recently as 11 days ago that he was not certain on significant elements of his starting line-up and has been deliberately circumspect when talking about individual positions.

That is, all bar one. We had to wait a week to find out Wayne Rooney would continue as captain but Allardyce was unequivocal from the outset when discussing the Manchester United forward's best position.

"His best position is where he's being played now because that's the manager of United telling him where he wants him to play with Zlatan Ibrahimovic," said Allardyce last week.

The 61-year-old subsequently revealed that his squad selection was based on ensuring England had two specialist players in each position; Everton's Ross Barkley missed out on the squad altogether despite a promising start to the Premier League season because "the change of position for Wayne makes it difficult for Ross".

Alli may have made the squad but he will sympathise with Barkley's plight. Rooney's form has been sufficiently dubious to prolong the debate about whether he is worth a place in the team moving forward but his status as captain affords him additional insurance against being left out.

Furthermore, the lack of experience elsewhere in the squad only increases Rooney's importance as a leader to a young side facing a stern test of how quickly they can bounce back from their humiliating defeat by Iceland when travelling to Slovakia this weekend.

Rooney reverting to a No10 position means Alli (left) will have to be shoehorned into the team elsewhere; he has played in a deeper position for Tottenham but an alternate place in Roy Hodgson's 4-3-3 system did not seem to suit him during a series of underwhelming performances in France. …

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