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England attack led by Harry Kane ready to take flight in Group B

England face Russia, Slovakia and Wales in Group B. Here's a look at their squad and how they will fare at Euro 2016. 

At a glance

Potentially the most entertaining England team to watch in decades, largely due to a good amount of fine, young attacking talent but also a defence about as stable as a house made of twigs in typhoon country.

Home view

The prevailing impression seems to be one of very quiet, extremely cautious optimism, that the English public might not quite have a team that will win the tournament, but at least one that will be exciting to watch.

In players like Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, coach Roy Hodgson is blessed with not only some of the best talent he's been able to select from in his time as manager, but also the finest in a hugely entertaining if chaotic Premier League season.

Marcus Rashford's inclusion in the squad is also interesting, the Manchester United teenager is rewarded following a string of fine displays at club level and an eye-catching performance in the warmup win over Australia.

This is a team without a single, recognised star player, which is probably an advantage as they aren't really reliant on anyone in particular. Of course it would be a setback if certain players were injured, but more or less everyone -- with the possible exception of goalkeeper Joe Hart -- is easily replaceable.

As ever with England, there will always be a vague sense of pre-emptive resignation and perhaps even apathy, because they have been here before: it is a talented squad that will eventually let the fans down. But with that, there's also the nagging idea that this time, it might really be different.

Star man

Hart is probably the most important player, simply because he is a world class goalkeeper playing behind a profoundly mediocre defence, but it's a bit boring to pick a keeper.

Kane is in the form of his life and getting better, a genuine centre-forward of the likes not seen since Alan Shearer, and while Kane is not as good a goalscorer as Shearer, he could well be a better all-round player.

The Tottenham striker has the ability to create chances from virtually nothing for himself and others, scoring headers, tap-ins and screamers, and managed 25 Premier League goals last season. If Kane has a good tournament, the chances are England will have a good tournament.

Harry Kane running v Turkey
Harry Kane has scored 32 goals in 59 appearances for club and country so far this season.

Potential pitfalls

The defence. Gone are the days when Ledley King couldn't get into the England team, the time a decade ago when central defence was an area of great strength and depth.

Hodgson has selected only three central defenders for the entire tournament, with the idea that they have Eric Dier and perhaps Ryan Bertrand around to fill-in if required. This was sold as creating space for more attacking players, but in reality it was probably a more pragmatic choice: if there aren't more than three central defenders worth taking, why waste a place by taking more than three?

But even the trio selected probably wouldn't have got near the squad in previous years, with Chris Smalling's form having dropped off in the second half of the season, Gary Cahill only in the Chelsea team thanks to Kurt Zouma's injury and John Stones still showing a tendency towards dithering and troubling mistakes. The full-back options are fine -- good, even -- but Hart could be in for a busy few weeks in France.

Predicted finish

Probably the quarterfinals. As long as they finish in the top two of their group, they shouldn't face anyone too tough in the second round, but at that point they might run into one of the big guns, and a team that could take full advantage of that shaky defence.

Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.


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