PARIS, France, June 8 – England have gone to great lengths to keep their plans secret here in France, but on Tuesday their assistant manager appeared to provide clues to the line-up for Saturday’s Euro 2016 opener during an afternoon stroll.
Roy Hodgson’s trusted aide Ray Lewington was photographed clutching official FA headed notepaper with a number of names under his arm.
It could give away some of their thoughts for the Group B clash against Russia in Marseille when England are expected to play Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Wayne Rooney.
They may play in a 4-3-2-1 Christmas tree formation.
Hodgson is so determined to keep his line-up secret he has ordered 12-foot screens around the perimeter of England’s already heavily secure training base 20 miles north of Paris.
Players have even been told not to reveal events in training to their agents.
Though the names on Lewington’s sheet were difficult to read, England will need to be more careful in the coming days, with Russia keen to discover how England will line up for their opening Group B clash.
In a second training session on Tuesday night, Hodgson was experimenting with different line-ups.
The 4-3-2-1 formation was how England finished last Thursday’s 1-0 victory over Portugal at Wembley, the change from the midfield diamond enabling them to score a late winner through Chris Smalling after more than 50 minutes against 10 men.
The players best suited to that formation, subject to fitness, could be: Hart; Walker, Smalling, Cahill, Rose; Dier, Wilshere, Milner; Alli, Rooney; Kane.
Smalling gave England an injury scare on Tuesday as he left training with his left knee strapped.
But the defender later insisted he would be fit to face Russia and is expected to take his place alongside Chelsea’s Gary Cahill at the heart of the England defence.
The Manchester United star is regarded as Hodgson’s most accomplished defender.
Southampton left back Ryan Bertrand has added to injury concerns after missing Tuesday’s morning session with a strained leg muscle.
If he is not fit, Tottenham’s Danny Rose is likely to line up in his place.
It seems certain that impressive Spurs forward Kane will lead the attack with captain Rooney also given the nod.
One of the main talking points is where England will play dynamic Tottenham creative midfielder Alli, 20, who has overtaken Everton’s Ross Barkley to stake a claim in the team.