Tottenham's Dele Alli must start for England says Michael Owen
Former England striker Michael Owen reckons Tottenham Hotspur wonder kid Dele Alli must start for England at the European Championships this summer.
Owen, who broke onto the international scene as a youngster at the 1998 World Cup, reckons Roy Hodgson must use Alli's youthful enthusiasm to his advantage when the Three Lions go into battle in France.
"He has always had promise -- even at MK Dons, he had a big reputation so I don't think it has been thrown upon us," Owen said on BT Sport.
"He has taken the jump in class in his stride and I would have no question about having him in my Euro team. If my experience is anything to go by, you are more fearless at that age. The older you get, the more you think about things.
"I am starting to get worried going on roller-coasters, heights and everything -- the older you get the more you think about things. You are cuter, cleverer, more experienced. When you are a kid you think you can take on the world."
Despite the rave reviews of Alli's inspirational first full season at White Hart Lane -- seven goals in 23 appearances so far -- Owen remains skeptical on whether the midfielder will be able to give England the boost they need, or become another one of England's perpetual rising stars who fail to reach their potential.
"I think Dele Alli is a real exciting one but when I look back to the last tournament, I was thinking we have got Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, kids like that. They didn't set the tournament alight. Have they improved since?" he asked.
"You could argue Barkley has a bit, but I don't think it's the most exciting crop of youngsters. We have got one or two you are hanging you hat on but in previous generations we've had a lot more."
Owen, went on to analyse England's strike options, and narrowed it down to Harry Kane and Leicester City marksman Jamie Vardy, but is unsure if the latter can suit Hodgson's game plan going into the summer showpiece event.
"I rate Vardy. I think he is a certain type. I don't think he would be as successful if he were playing for Manchester City," Owen said.
"He is a runner, he has loads of energy and he likes space to run into. He is set up to playing for a counter-attacking team.
"But would he be able to score so many goals playing for a team like Manchester City where teams are fearful of you and start to drop off you? I have my question marks. But in a counter-attacking team, there are not many better.
"So if I was Roy Hodgson and I was thinking of playing a counter-attacking team in the summer, then you would play Vardy. If I was playing a possession-based game, I would probably play Harry Kane.
"Vardy is the best around at what he does but that is how I see him. That is not being cruel. If you haven't got space to run like he has he would not score the amount of goals."
England kick off their Euro 2016 campaign on Jun. 11 against Russia in Group B, before facing Wales on Jun. 16 and Slovakia on Jun. 20.