Roy Hodgson. [Action Images].
The Three Lions beat Slovenia 3-2 on Sunday, setting England on the path to Euro 2016 but defensive issues are still Roy Hodgson’s biggest concern, says Arsenal legend Alan Smith.
The former England forward praised Jack Wilshere's performance on the day but also stressed that the back four was a major concern in Ljubljana.
”In Brazil last year we were found wanting at the back, we weren’t quite good enough, and nothing has changed in that regard,” Smith told Sky Sports HQ.
“There were a lot of good things, a lot of positive things to talk about going forward but we really need to get that back four sorted out and I’m sure that’s what is at the forefront of Roy Hodgson’s mind at the moment.”
“Chris Smalling has been a plus point,” Smith added.
“He was showing some of the form he did for the Under-21s a few years back when he was stepping into midfield, getting involved, good and confident on the ball.
"But it’s the partnerships: left-back is still an unanswered question, Nathaniel Clyne might fill the right-block slot, but it’s the central defensive partnership that is still to be decided as well, so plenty there for Roy Hodgson to think about.”
The Arsenal great also said Wilshere can play a key role for Roy Hodgson's side next year in France.
“It’s this new role we’ve spoken about so often, at the base of midfield, and it’s a role that he’s not used to at Arsenal.
“If you asked him, he probably wouldn’t play there by choice, but it just goes to show if he’s intelligent about it and picks his moments he can get forward and influence things, in areas of the pitch that he would want to.
“That’s a great, big, big plus point for Roy Hodgson and you just desperately hope – and I’m sure Jack will be hoping now – that, going into next season, he can have a clear run without injury and cement that place for England.”