DANIEL STURRIDGE looked a picture of health as he tore across Liverpool’s
Melwood training ground yesterday.
But the striker must have felt sick last night as his team-mates lined up to
fill their boots with goals.
However, it was a chance they missed.
Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck both scored, but the expected goal glut against
a terrible team who should not be allowed anywhere near competitive
international football never materialised.
Rooney could have bagged four and this morning be third in the all-time list
of Three Lions goalscorers.
His solitary strike from the penalty spot means he is on 42, still two behind
Jimmy Greaves, yet it is beyond doubt he will soon hunt down Gary Lineker’s
total of 48 then pass Bobby Charlton’s record of 49.
And that will be before England even set foot in France in 2016.
Only intrigue will be who’s in finals squad This qualifying campaign will be
the most straightforward in history and it will hardly be a surprise if
England deliver the perfect ten out of ten victories.
The only intrigue will be who makes the squad for the finals and one of the
key areas is who will partner captain Rooney.
With Rickie Lambert a distant fourth in the strike queue — and little else
beyond that — it is Welbeck verses Sturridge.
Sturridge has only just returned to training after injuring his thigh during
the last international break and he now faces a scrap to reclaim a starting
place with England.
Welbeck, who made it 3-0 in the 49th minute — his 11th international goal —
will not only retain his place alongside Rooney for Sunday’s teatime clash
But you would expect him to once again be alongside Roo when England return to
Wembley for the next qualifier against the mighty Slovenia on November 15.
Sturridge must first rediscover his form for Liverpool if he is to budge
Welbeck, who has adjusted well to his new life with Arsenal.
As Rooney insisted beforehand, though, a player is only remembered for the
goals he scores in an England shirt — fans do not care about the opposition.
When people reflect on the goals scored by Rooney and Welbeck in their
careers, they will not recall that on October 9, 2014, they faced the
joint-worst team in the world.
A San Marino team which included just one professional footballer along with
an accountant, shop assistant, factory workers, office clerk, student and a
bloke who works for a company which produces olive oil.
The population of this tiny republic stuck on a rock inside Italy is just
31,000 — little more than a third of Wembley’s capacity — yet that did not
stop England suffering a night of relative frustration.
Embarrassingly, England rarely threatened in the first quarter of the game.
And they needed defender Phil Jagielka to head them ahead only after San
Marino keeper Aldo Simoncini tripped over a team-mate’s leg.
Simoncini then made a cracking save to deny Welbeck, but soon afterwards
Rooney was fouled by Matteo Vitaioli and the skipper made no mistake from
the spot for No 2.
Welbeck grabbed his goal shortly into the second half after a decent cross
from club team-mate and pal Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Andros Townsend, who nudged England to the World Cup finals in Brazil, made
his mark as sub with a decent fourth.
Rooney’s intended cross then deflected off Alessandro Della Valle for the
It was generally a night to forget, though. The only remarkable fact was there
were 55,990 paying punters.
If you think that is a poor attendance, have a look at those of the other
qualifiers last night and then remind yourself that England’s fantastic
supporters are in a league of their own.