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Fortune Favours the Brave

10/03/2014 17:18 GMT | Updated 10/05/2014 10:59 BST

As the old saying goes, 'fortune favours the brave'.

Based on England's most recent performance, they are certainly going to need a hefty slice of fortune if they are to reach the knockout stages of this summer's World Cup.

That underwhelming 1-0 defeat of Denmark last week was an outing which raised left us with more questions than answers - and with the action in Brazil set to kick off in just a matter of months, Roy Hodgson certainly has some big decisions to make.

If that means dropping established senior players, then so be it.

Indeed, one such quandary facing the Three Lions boss concerns Wayne Rooney.

The Manchester United striker is perhaps the most notable, 'world class' player in the squad at the moment, but when was the last time he turned in a performance worthy of that status?

A disastrous campaign domestically has seen the forward consistently disappoint, and although he is by no means the only United player failing to uproot trees of late, it is hardly the best preparation for what should have been perhaps the most perfect tournament of his career.

So many times, Rooney has struggled to make the desired impact on the international stage, but at the age of 28, arguably the peak of a modern footballer, Brazil could've been a key World Cup for him.

On the contrary, Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge is in the midst of the most lethal season of his career to date - and that notch against the Danes was his 23rd strike in 28 appearances for club and country this campaign.

His Anfield partnership with Luis Suarez has terrorised Premier League defences all season - and the confidence flowing through his play is clear to see.

It is a quite incredible record from the ex-Manchester City and Chelsea player, and one certainly more worthy of the acclaim so often bestowed upon Rooney.

Yet, against Denmark, we saw Roy Hodgson stick with Rooney in the most advanced, central striker position - shoving Sturridge out onto the wing, like something of an after thought.

It was a decision which left the Three Lions looking rather toothless in the final third, with Rooney failing to make any meaningful impact, other than blasting several shots some way wide of the goals.

More alarmingly, it tasked Sturridge with more tactical duties such as tracking back and pulling wide - at the same time removing much of the offensive threat offered by the Liverpool star.

Of course, it is an issue that England have experienced many times previously.

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, though individually up there with the best on the planet, never properly gelled as a central pairing - but despite that, several managers persevered with the midfield two, and England were faced with international failure after international failure.

One thing is for sure - with the Three Lions currently looking like nothing more than a second rate, mediocre side, they cannot afford to rest on their laurels yet again this summer.

As such, Hodgson faces a real conundrum if he is to continue to field the 4-3-3 formation which faced Denmark - but it is one which must be made, for the good of England's national game.

Despite home advantage, the hosts so often to penetrate their Danish guests last week, and the result was a largely drab affair.

The emergence of Adam Lallana in a brief, half an hour cameo was an undoubted highlight of the fixture - and suggests that the Southampton skipper could stake a late claim for a place on the plane.

The wide midfielder has been in consistently impressive form domestically, and more than deserved the chance to shine on the international stage - an opportunity which he certainly made the most of against the Danes.

But already, in the aftermath of that showing, I believe that we are seeing an all too familiar over reaction to his arrival on the England scene.

Yes - he produced a real flash of individual brilliance to put the ball on a plate for a hungry Sturridge to nod home in the 82nd minute, but the clamour to place so much expectation on his relatively young shoulders is typical of much of the English media.

Perhaps it is because England have been so starved of success for so long that when a player shows the slightest glimpse of quality in a white shirt, he is almost immediately billed as the saviour of the national team.

We saw it with Andros Townsend just last year, after the Spurs winger capped an impressive performance with a goal on his Three Lions debut against Montenegro - but his season has tailed off, and he can't even break into his club side at the moment.

Once again, it all comes down to mentality and style. I have been vociferous in my opinion that England desperately need to catch up with the rest of their rivals, not just on the pitch, but off it - and the obsession with pinning hopes on individual players is yet another example of that.

Take Spain, for example. La Roja has so much talent and quality throughout the squad, that Vicente del Bosque simply doesn't have to rely so heavily on a minority of players performing.

The Spanish have so much quality in the squad, from back to front - and the result is that their system is greater than the sum of its parts.

I remember a time when Xavi Hernandez, now widely regarded as the most complete holding midfielder in the world, couldn't get into the Spanish side.

Indeed, it was Spain boss Luis Aragones who first spotted an opportunity to implement the Barcelona star as the focal point of his tiki taka system - and that decision has provided the basis for so much of the dominance that they have enjoyed ever since.

It was a brave move, there is no doubt about that. But it is that kind of revolutionary thinking that English football so lacks at the moment.

The arrival of Greg Dyke into the Football Association hot seat brought with it a real injection of enthusiasm, and an apparently fresh outlook on the state of the national game.

But six months later, it appears that much of those comments may have been nothing more than empty platitudes - and, if anything, the recent actions of the organisation suggest that England is in for more of the same.

During those early press conferences, much was made of a necessity for English football to adapt its traditional style in order to keep up with the rest of the world.

But last weeks' appointment of notorious long ball merchant Aidy Boothroyd as England U20s boss speaks volumes about the intentions of the Football Association.

My view is nothing personal against the ex-Northampton Town boss, who was sacked with his side sitting 92nd out of 92 Football League clubs earlier this season - but his appointment into a trusted position overseeing the development of the nation's future stars hardly represents a sea change by the Association.

With England on the brink of that Brazil trip, and looking increasingly unlikely to trouble the likes of Spain, Germany, France, Italy, the hosts, and even the likes of Chile and Belgium - I believe that a decision needs to be made right from the top.

Wayne Rooney should be at the top of that agenda. If the Manchester United forward is still lacking cutting edge as the Three Lions edge closer to that opening encounter with Italy on June 14th, then England can not blindly select him in Manaus.

Senior, and supposedly 'world class' players must once again earn their chance to don the white shirt.

Otherwise, Hodgson needs to put his faith into the emerging, young and inexperienced players - and prove that he is more than a nodding 'yes man', unwilling to ruffle feathers and break with tradition.

The future success of England depends upon it.