BRYAN ROBSON: I’d love to see fearless Jack Grealish at Manchester United and here’s why he must start alongside Mason Mount in England’s midfield… with Raheem Sterling up front
For the start of a big tournament I think you need to have a blend of experience and form to give you a good start – especially against opposition as good as Croatia.
Harry Maguire is a big loss for me as he reads the game so well and his partnership with John Stones is a strong, proven foundation for England.
He settles others down, gives a calm assurance and brings the ball out of defence well. How we manage without him is key. I’d replace him with Tyrone Mings.
I would replace the injured Harry Maguire (left) with Tyrone Mings (right) at centre back
I know he’s prone to the odd lapse in concentration but if he can keep his focus and discipline I believe he gives the defence greater balance until Maguire returns.
Mings is naturally left sided so that will help Luke Shaw to go forward; he’s aggressive, likes the physical side and is athletic. He also maintains that threat from set pieces.
Having him alongside should bring greater responsibility to John Stones and those around him.
Stones has shown great character to kick on this season. He’s been excellent for Pep Guardiola and he is key to how England play. His understanding with Kyle Walker is why I’d have his City teammate at right back.
Kyle Walker should start at right back alongisde his Manchester City team-mate John Stones
ROBSON’S ENGLAND STARTING XI
(4-3-3): Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, Jack Grealish, Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Phil Foden
Walker is a great athlete but also has the strength and streetsense to fit in at centre back when we need him.
I would have picked him ahead of Trent Alexander Arnold regardless of the Liverpool lad’s injury because he’s a better defender.
If Nick Pope had been fit I would have gone for him in goal.
He has been the best shot stopper for me but Jordan Pickford has the big tournament experience having done well at the World Cup and has settled down after some erratic performances earlier in the season at Everton.
Ahead of the defence I’d have the most improved player in the Premier League this season Declan Rice.
He’s not shirked the responsibility given to him by David Moyes this season, he’s grown into the role and has shown real maturity.
Fearless Jack Grealish has to start in midfield and I would love to see hi at Manchester United
Mason Mount should play alongisde Grealish because of the skill and energy he provides
He still needs to move the ball a bit quicker to make those transitions from defence into attack more effective but his main job will be to sniff out trouble and break things up.
I’d have to start both Jack Grealish and Mason Mount around Rice.
They are fearless on the ball and make things happen with their skill and energy.
I’d love to see Grealish at Manchester United, though that seems unlikely, as he’s the type of player who gets the crowd on their feet and revels on the big stage.
I can see the comparisons with Paul Gascoigne who was a phenomenal talent and now Grealish has the platform to show what he can do.
Similarly Mount has had an excellent season. His pass in the Champions League final for Kai Havertz winner epitomised the vision and awareness he possesses.
It may not be everyone’s pick but I’d play Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling at the top end off Harry Kane.
Raheem Sterling is an important player from the start and should play alongside Harry Kane and Phil Foden in a front three
They are not only great attacking players but their work rate is invaluable too.
Sterling has a lot of questions around his form but I think his game knowledge and know how at this level will see him through.
He’s still important to us from the start and we are fortunate to have great options from the bench in Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford whose pace will frighten any defence.
Kane quite simply starts because he is one of the best centre forwards in the world. He wants to win and sets the example.