Column: First goal will be crucial in Battle of Britain

Harry Kane
Harry Kane

England put in one of their better tournament performances against Russia in their opening Euro 2016 match.

They played well and deserved to win. Conceding a last minute equaliser made it feel like a defeat so the key for the team is to bounce back and learn from the experience. They just need to be a little more clinical. You just knew Russia were going to have a chance at some point.

We were a little naive, which I suppose is understandable as we have youngest average team in the tournament. We don’t have much experience in closing out games.

When Germany went 1-0 up over the weekend, you never got a sense that Ukraine would get an equaliser. Germany controlled the tempo and it was always going to be one or two nil.

I would like to see England boss Roy Hodgson be a lot more proactive with his substitutions. He was too cautious and gave Russia the initiative after we went ahead.

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Hodgson should have put on Sheffield’s Jamie Vardy in the last 20 minutes. Harry Kane looked a bit tired after doing a good job for the team. To me, it was a simple like for like substitution. We could have done with fresh legs in midfield and up front.

I’m convinced Hodgson would have put Vardy on had we scored a little earlier and Russia levelled things up around the 65 minute mark but you have to be proactive with substitutions.

Football is a squad game these days. It’s not just about starting elevens.

It is the middle of the summer and it is hot in the evenings in France at the moment but we only used two substitutes versus Russia. Why have we taken five forwards and left three of them on the bench doing nothing?

England need to start the Wales game like we did against Russia. We need to get in their faces early on. The first goal will be crucial. If England get that, I think they will relax and play quite well. The longer it stays goalless, then England might get edgy.

Gareth Bale is obviously Wales’ big dangerman but they are more than just a one-man team. Wales have got other good players in Aaron Ramsey and Ashley Williams. They have a good spine down their team but Bale will be the outstanding player on the pitch for either side. Wales play to his strengths.

A draw would be a good result for Wales. All the pressure is on England.

It should be a cracking game. I just hope Kane stops taking corners!