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'Nathaniel Chalobah and Tom Ince should start for England Under-21s'

Alan Smith - Alan Smith Posted 7th June 2013 view comments

Glenn Hoddle was quite critical of England's performance against Italy in their first game of the European Under-21 Championship - but with the team we had out I wasn't expecting an awful lot.

We have been deprived of Callum McManaman and Raheem Sterling through injury, Wilfried Zaha sat out the match and Tom Ince was suspended, so it was probably a bit much to expect us to create chances and score lots of goals.

Chalobah: played the final 25 minutes of England's loss to Italy

Chalobah: played the final 25 minutes of England's loss to Italy

I was more disappointed by our displays in previous editions of the tournament, when we had better teams and didn't really make our mark, than the 1-0 defeat to Italy - but you would hope England can show a bit more spark and flair against Norway on Saturday.

I think there could be changes at full-back, with Adam Smith and Danny Rose coming in on the right and left respectively for Nathaniel Clyne and Jack Robinson, and I would also expect Ince to return now that his ban has finished.

Chalobah showed some class when he come on in midfield and had a good feel for the ball.

Alan Smith
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European Under-21 Ch'ship
England v Norway
4.30pm, Sat, Sky Sports 2 HD
Italy v Israel
7.15pm, Sat, Sky Sports 2 HD

Nathaniel Chalobah showed some class when he came on in midfield and I reckon Stuart Pearce could play him alongside Jason Lowe in the centre and push Jordan Henderson into a more advanced role, as Jonjo Shelvey struggled in that position against Italy.

Up front, it is probably a toss-up between Connor Wickham and Marvin Sordell and maybe the latter will get a chance because it was tough for him out on the left flank in the first game as that is not his natural position.

Tempo

We tried to get the ball down and play it against Italy but didn't have the technique or the bravery to play in someone who has a man on him.

But I am confident that if the changes I've mentioned are made and we play at a high, typically-English tempo, we can pose more of a threat.

And we must not forget that there were one or two bright spots, particularly Birmingham's Nathan Redmond, who was our best player on the night and thoroughly deserves to keep his spot in the team.

Redmond showed a lot of confidence from the first minute, he wasn't afraid to dribble and take on his man, had some shots and played like he does in club football, something that is not always easy to do.

Chalobah had a good feel for the ball and we also defended very well; the two centre-halves, Steven Caulker and Craig Dawson, came under a lot of pressure but stayed solid and showed that we won't concede too many goals.

I was also very impressed with Italy; Spain obviously have a lot of quality and plugged away on Thursday to eventually beat Russia, but the Italians have some marvellous players in Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Verratti, as well as Manolo Gabbiadini up top.

Exploring

As Martin Tyler mentioned in his blog, we had to share a dormitory for one-night only in Israel - but he certainly got the better end of the deal as he nabbed the bedroom.

That left me, Sky Sports News reporter Bryan Swanson and cameraman Rich Harlow on camp beds in the lounge area, so it was a bit like going back to school, but at least it meant we didn't hear Martin snoring.

We've all got our own rooms now, so that's a relief, while we're also enjoying the hot weather and exploring the Israeli culture, and our driver is keeping us abreast of what the country and people are like.

It is obviously different here, what with the troubles Israel have had, but I am having a great time.

Click here for details of our European Under-21 Championship coverage.

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