Neil Humphreys: Stop the experimenting, Roy
Three Lions boss must play his best 11 to show their Euro 2016 credentials
GERMANY v ENGLAND
(Tomorrow, 3,45am, Olympic Stadium, Berlin)
Stereotypes can be cruel, but Roy Hodgson still comes across as an indecisive man.
The England manager gives the impression he spends an hour at the whiteboard deciding whether to pick tea or coffee for breakfast.
His two previous tournaments didn't see him err on the side of caution.
He leapt into bed with caution, turning his back on risk, invention, youth, creativity and any other bold impulses usually associated with successful managers.
But this is his last chance. There will not be another if he fails again at Euro 2016.
Hodgson, in his customary bumbling fashion, has spoken of his plans to experiment against Germany tomorrow morning (Singapore time) and Holland next week.
But it's too late now. Hodgson shouldn't play with the toolkit any more than Rory McIlroy should fiddle with a new set of clubs on the eve of a Major tournament.
With only one defeat in their last 17 games, England's time for experimenting has passed.
Hodgson must go for broke against a Germany side who typically pick their best available players in the final warm-ups.
But Hodgson is likely to procrastinate. One of world football's great ditherers, his conservatism usually eats away at his common sense, which hints at an infuriating scenario against Germany.
GO WITH YOUTH
Common sense surely dictates a youthful line-up. Right the way through England's spine, youth must prevail.
Based on form, consistency and the current complexion of the English Premier League, the kids are all right.
But, like an uncle asking for Abba at a family wedding, Hodgson loves a golden oldie. He has already insisted that Wayne Rooney has earned his Euro 2016 selection and is a probable starter.
Why exactly? Apart from his injury, the England skipper chases the shadow of history, unable to catch his former self.
But his inevitable selection, along with the baffling inclusion of Theo Walcott, betrays a manager who's still compelled to play safe.
Hodgson's stubbornness must give way to bold pragmatism and that means picking - and sticking with - youngsters and newcomers; mostly from Tottenham and Leicester.
England's rare successes in the past were largely attributed to practical managers utilising established partnerships and relationships at club level.
Moore, Hurst and Peters at West Ham and Stiles and Charlton at Manchester United led the Boys of '66 to their solitary World Cup triumph.
The Hammers trio were telepathic in their set-piece delivery and Stiles did the fetching and carrying for his club and country ringmaster.
In England's semi-final in Italia '90, Nottingham Forest duo Des Walker and Stuart Pearce shared defensive duties, while Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne took on the attacking responsibilities they had at Tottenham.
Aside from those two tournaments, successive England managers have consistently failed to learn from Spain and Barcelona and Germany and Bayern Munich and tap into existing club duos, trios and quartets.
Liverpool and Arsenal's title winners in the 70s and late 80s were rarely offered the chance to collectively replicate their domestic success for England and Sven-Goran Eriksson never managed to fully incorporate United's Class of '92 in their prime.
LEARN FROM HISTORY
But Hodgson can learn from both history and the current league standings to flood his side with Tottenham and Leicester players; five from one and two from the other.
Like Sir Alf Ramsey, he can lead a trophy charge with the banners of a couple of key clubs.
Tottenham's increasingly famous five of Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Harry Kane may lack the international experience of other contenders for their positions, but boast superior form.
Like Danny Drinkwater and Jamie Vardy at Leicester, they are secure in their consistency and will benefit further from the familiar faces around them.
The alternatives - James Milner, Adam Lallana, Walcott and Danny Welbeck - have all gained international exposure without mounting a serious case for automatic selection.
Hodgson persisted with the tried and tested and they limped, wheezing and apologising, out of one tournament after another.
Without a trace of irony, the England manager yesterday discussed how the late Johan Cruyff coached the game, with an emphasis on youth, attack and spontaneity. Well, Hodgson might as well give it a go now.
Pick the kids plus Vardy, who retains the pace of a teenage cheetah, and stick with them all the way to Paris.
Even if the selections fail, defeat will still be more entertaining than the traditional dying of England's dinosaurs.
Our columnist picks his best England 11
With Joe 22 Hart injured, the Stoke goalkeeper has earned the right to prove himself as an able deputy for Euro 2016
The left back has taken too long to live up to his early potential, but he’s been terrific this season and has a good understanding with the left-sided Eric Dier and Dele Alli.
The early-season speculation affected his game a little, but Stones has been less consistent in an erratic Everton side. That said, he’s more reliable compared to Gary Cahill.
If every Red Devil had been anywhere near as reliable as Smalling, then Manchester United would be challenging for the title.
This is the toughest call as Liverpool’s Nathaniel Clyne has also impressed, but the Spurs connection gives Walker the nod. He has an excellent “you stay, I go” understanding with Rose.
Practically a mirror image of Drinkwater, his defensive midfield partner, Dier’s progress this season has been remarkable. Reliable and rarely flustered, Dier wins the ball and gets it to Alli.
From second-stringer at Leicester to an England call-up, his progress has been phenomenal. He runs. He tackles. And he never stops doing either.
Playing at the head of a midfield three, Barker would get the Gazza role he covets, exploding forward to link the lines. But he needs to win games on his own, like Paul Gascoigne did.
Like a white-haired man in a penguin suit, the teenager conducts the orchestra like a veteran. He can drop back or flip places across the forward line to stretch fullbacks and separate centre backs.
At 29, he might have only one tournament in him, but England need only one. His pace, such a rarity in England players, earns him his selection. But he’d need to adapt to playing off Harry Kane’s shoulder.
Kane is rapidly becoming the most complete English centre forward since Alan Shearer. If he is sidelined in favour of Wayne Rooney at Euro 2016, it won’t just be a travesty. It’ll be unforgivable.