Daniel Sturridge may have looked rusty at times during the second half against Wales but essentially played a vital role in England's equaliser before starting and finishing off the move that won the game. This is the talent and power of a player who is still questioned beyond understandable concerns surrounding his physical durability.
There's no reason why any Liverpool fan shouldn't respect and love Daniel Sturridge after 53 goals in 92 appearances in all competitions. Quite a few of those appearances were cut short through injury or were part of his recovery from injury, but despite a lack of consistency in playing time since arriving from Chelsea in January 2013, Sturridge continues to score goals.The 26-year-old's record in the Premier League is even more fearsome with 43 goals in 69 games.
Apparently Sturridge was never in any danger of not making the England squad after he his heroics against Wales, even though all the talk in the lead-up to Hodgson's squad announcement was about the player being a possible high-profile absentee. Yes, he was always part of Roy Hodgson's crafty plan all along. Such was its nuance and craft that the existence of such a plan was difficult to discern in the slightest.
"I’m pleased for him," Hodgson said before going on a characteristic show of curdled self-satisfaction. "He had that long injury and there was speculation, and questions, about whether he was the right player to be in the 23. People were asking: ‘Should he go?’ and I’m delighted that I showed confidence in him because he hasn’t let me down very often. He’s a special player, there’s no doubt about it."
This just brings all the terrible memories of his time at Liverpool flooding back. The complete and staggering lack of awareness combined with a disgustingly cloying desire to eradicate himself from the very centre of the problem that found a solution in spite of his own involvement is classic Roy Hodgson. It is a little difficult to completely admonish the man when many Liverpool fans don't appear to understand how talented and proven Daniel Sturridge actually is, but there's always time for a dollop of scolding for a manager who was so utterly uninspiring and unsuitable as Liverpool manager.
While he has not been ghastly for England, his natural conservatism hasn't produced during major tournaments. Young talent, however, has come through at a solid pace along with comfortable qualification for the World Cup and European Championships albeit in unchallenging groups. Going into Euro 2016, Hodgson seemed content. After wonderful goalscoring campaigns, Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane clearly deserved a place in the England squad for Euro 2016. It seemed that both would start together in a diamond formation with Wayne Rooney behind them as a number ten.
Tactical innovations and daring decisions would take England beyond Thunderdome. Wayne Rooney as Andrea Pirlo became the concept that would usurp forcing an unfit Jack Wilshere -- a player in need of pre-season to get ready for pre-season -- to be England's very own 57 minute Xavi. The latest major decision replacing Harry Kane with Daniel Sturridge in attack for England's final Group B game against Slovakia. Kane was substituted along with the worryingly unproductive Raheem Sterling at half-time with England trailing to a Gareth Bale free-kick that Joe Hart might wish to forever forget.
Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge coming on at the interval represented a tactical move that was delivered from the pungent realms of desperation, but incredibly, such depths brought success for Hodgson. Each striker scored a goal, with Sturridge deservedly attracting the most attention and adulation after the game. England were up and running all thanks to one man. After all, we really should all be delighted with Hodgson staying the course and remaining true to his grand vision.
Now that Sturridge is set to start, one can only hope that Hodgson doesn't put the player through a daily routine of training twice in the morning and once more before afternoon tea to prepare him for Monday's clash with Slovakia. Sturridge is a skilful, talented, intelligent, sharp, and productive striker, so whatever you do Roy, please don't break him.