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How Roy Hodgson's England Can Win Euro 2016

02/04/2015 18:23 BST | Updated 02/06/2015 10:59 BST

​It's been a while since England have won a major tournament. You might've heard. 50 years, in fact, will have passed between this summer's European showpiece tournament and the Three Lions' sole triumph on home soil back in 1966.

It's been a while since they came close. It's been so long and fruitless a run that even the notoriously optimistic England fans have started to lose the "this is our year, lads!" spirit - Euro 2004 might be the most recent time where there was a real buzz around the side.

By the time summer 2016 rolls around though, that could have all changed.

England had a horrendous World Cup in Brazil. There's no getting away from that. But playing in the unfamiliar heat and humidity of South America is one thing - Euro 2016 is in France. It levels the playing field slightly - not a big change, but every little helps.

It turns out that the players and quality thereof, are quite important when it comes to winning football matches. Who knew? And England's are... not great. This England squad isn't terrifying at first glance. Or, indeed, terrifying after a few looks. But there aren't many weak links either.

The emergence of Nathaniel Clyne as a top class right-back has gone a long way to filling a gap in the squad which went to Brazil last summer. James Milner played at right-back for England in at least one warm-up game, which illustrates the lack of depth in the position better than a thousand words.

Clyne's continued emergence as one of the Premier League's most consistent right-backs has been a major boost to Roy Hodgson and barring a big loss of form or injury, Clyne will surely spend the next year nailing down his England spot.

Gary Cahill's recent poor form is something of a concern, but there are enough capable centre-backs in the setup - Jagielka and Phil Jones might be the best partnership - to cover for him.

In a complete reversal of Clyne's story, comes another player who could have a huge and unexpected impact in France - Michael Carrick. Having not played an international match since 2013, he started against Lithuania and was impressive, although it must be said that even the exhumed corpse of Stanley Matthews would probably have impressed against that Lithuania side.

He's been going about his business in a mightily effective and understated way for Manchester United though and is deserving of his place in a Three Lions squad. Euro 2016 would undoubtedly be his last hurrah on the international stage, but he's got it in him to deliver the kind of performance that Nicky Butt gave in the 2002 World Cup.

Carrick will, hopefully, then be able to play anchor to two players who could perhaps do with one more season to mature properly - Ross Barkley and Jordan Henderson. They're not exactly perfect yet, but the potential is there.

Having consistently underwhelmed on the big stage since his breakout tournament in 2004, this may be Wayne Rooney's last chance to really make his mark in a real competition for England. He'll be 32 by the World Cup in Russia, getting old and creaky. As leader of this side (and by 2016, surely England's all-time leading scorer), he has the fire in his belly to drag his side forward - as long as that fire doesn't spill over.

Raheem Sterling will be a focal point of any attacking corps that England field for the next five years at least, and should be nearing his physical peak by the time the squad jump on the Eurostar.

Then there's that other guy. You might not have heard of him, it's not like he's been getting much attention in the media lately. Some youngster by the name of Harry Kane, who made a low-key start to his England career against Lithuania by taking a whole 78 seconds to score his first goal.

Kane isn't the heavenly saviour. He isn't the magical cure for England always disappointing when the world is watching. But he is a damn fine footballer, almost the complete package in terms of his skill set and he's proved that he can tear apart strong defences - just ask John Terry and Gary Cahill.

Even with this optimism - a Euro 2016 win is a long shot. France's attack looks pant-wettingly scary, Germany's World Cup winners will be looking to go 2-for-2, while Spain look to reclaim former glories.

But there's cause for hope. Just a little bit. Even a run to the semi-finals would be a massive achievement - and anything can happen from there...

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