EURO 2012 Preview: Plenty of question marks for England

England returns to the European Championship after missing out on the 2008 tournament, and the Three Lions do so with plenty of questions to answer.

Chief among them is how the team will cope without suspended striker Wayne Rooney for the first two games of the competition, while new manager Roy Hodgson also figures to be closely watched.

Hodgson was appointed England boss on May 1 after Fabio Capello stepped down in February. And although Tottenham's Harry Redknapp was the favorite to assume the role, it is the 64-year-old Hodgson who will have a little over a month to make his mark on the team.

The former West Bromwich boss does have experience in a major international competition as he led Switzerland to the 1994 World Cup, while also managing UAE and Finland.

But his appointment was not the most popular one, with critics pointing to his failed stint as Liverpool manager last year.

Not only does Hodgson have a short period of time to bring his team together, but with Rooney out for the first two group-stage matches against France and Sweden due to suspension, the boss will have to decide who replaces the Manchester United star.

Rooney's United teammate, Danny Welbeck, is one option, while Liverpool striker Andy Carroll came on late for the Reds following a mostly disappointing campaign at Anfield.

Hodgson made a major decision in leaving veteran defender Rio Ferdinand off the squad, instead opting to bring the controversial John Terry, who will likely be paired in central defense with Chelsea teammate Gary Cahill.

Sorting out the midfield situation has been a troubling task for England managers in the past, and Hodgson will have his work cut out for him as he decides how to deploy players like captain Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner and Scott Parker.

England's history of failure is well known, but Milner believes that there is a benefit to Hodgson selecting 11 players who have never featured in a major tournament for the senior nation team.

"They go in fresh and don't have those negative thoughts," Milner told BBC Sport in reference to some of the younger players in the side.

"Maybe the disappointments do wear you down. Now we have that mix of younger players who haven't gone through that."

With Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart becoming the clear number one in goal, England shouldn't have to deal with the goalkeeping nightmares that plagued them in the 2010 World Cup.

But that is one of the few areas where a question mark doesn't exist, which has caused expectations to be considerably lower for this England team than in recent tournaments.


Despite being drawn into a favorable Group D along with France, Sweden and co- hosts Ukraine, there is too much uncertainty for England to be considered the favorite. Rooney will miss the first two games with France and Sweden, while Ukraine will be no picnic playing on home soil. England's best showing at the Euros was a semifinal appearance in 1996, but don't expect that result to be duplicated this year. If England is able to advance beyond the group stage a potential quarterfinal matchup with Spain or Italy would likely spell the end.