England’s Euro 2016 group stage was, in many ways, typically England. There was promise, and there were moments of dominance, but there were also a fair stumbles and disappointment, and in the end the Three Lions could only manage second in their group, finishing behind Wales, the one side they beat.
For Liverpool fans, the silver lining will be that the Reds’ representatives given a chance acquitted themselves well. Daniel Sturridge had a hand in two of England’s three goals in group play, and he looked dangerous when allowed to play centrally. Jordan Henderson was solid in limited action even if, short of fitness, he tired quickly.
And then their was right back Nathaniel Clyne, who proved Roy Hodgson had made the wrong call by starting Tottenham’s Kyle Walker in the first two games when he came in for the third and turned in a Man of the Match performance. England may have only managed a nil-nil draw against Slovakia, but Clyne quite clearly excelled.
"I was pleased with my performance," Clyne said, speaking to reporters gathered at England’s latest training session this morning. "The manager made changes and we all came in and did well. We dominated the game from start to finish, so it was a bit frustrating that we didn’t get the goal that would have won us the game."
Now, the question is whether Clyne gets the nod when England, runners-up in Group B, face off against the runners-up in Group F—which could be any of Hungary, Iceland, or Portugal depending on today’s results. On form, both for club and country, there would seem only one choice, but in the end it will be the manager’s call.
"All of the starting line-up that’s been playing had done well and this was a chance for those coming in to show the manager they should be in the team," Clyne added. "It’s good that everyone is fighting for places. It makes the team healthy and makes everyone push harder."