Jamie Carragher believes England players are showing signs of fatigue and believes boss Gareth Southgate must consider rotating his selection.
Aside from changes at full-back – with Luke Shaw and Reece James coming in for Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker – the Three Lions were unchanged against Scotland from their opening day win over Croatia.
However, Carragher – who represented the nation over multiple international tournaments – believes that more changes are needed ahead of Tuesday’s meeting against Czech Republic.
The former Liverpool defender believes that it is not only the physicality of the games that takes it toll but also psychologically, with each game likened to playing a cup final.
Carragher has written in his column for The Telegraph : “The word ‘fatigue’ has been applied to England since full-time. For many players, the jadedness since Sunday will be more mental than physical given England had an extra day’s rest.
“The build-up to Croatia was intense, and so was the response to the win. Players like Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Tyrone Mings will never have experienced anything like that before, the level of acclaim on a higher scale to what they hear or read for their clubs. On Sunday night, they would have felt like they had just won a cup final. Even in victory that is emotionally draining.
“The process of dealing with that and training your body and mind to go again four or five days later gets easier with experience.
“This is where Southgate’s knowledge and calm will be so important before Tuesday. Every manager will tell you it is vital never to get too high after the highs, nor too low after the lows. Multiply that by a couple of thousand with England.”
What changes should England make for the Czech Republic game? Comment below
Carragher believes that captain Harry Kane – who is yet to have a shot on target across his two appearances so far – should be rotated for Tuesday’s final group game.
The Sky Sports pundit added: “The issues I raised about Harry Kane in the aftermath of the Croatia game were apparent again. Those observations were never about being critical or negative for the sake of it.
“The only way England can go far in this tournament is with a fit and on-form Kane so everything Southgate does in his team selection and set-up must be about getting the best from him.
“That is why – for his and the team’s sake – I would leave him on the bench against the Czechs. It’s not about ‘dropping’ him. It’s about thinking ahead, revitalising Kane for the last-16 tie which is going to be against a much stronger opponent than Tuesday’s. He can recharge mentally and physically, liaising with the sports science team and formulating a plan to get himself right for the likely meeting with France, Portugal or Germany in eight or nine days’ time.
“That would still be a brave decision by Southgate. What I like about Gareth is he is not shy to make those big calls, as shown when he changed a winning team against the Scots. Replacing the full-backs made sense. The problem was getting Reece James and Luke Shaw into the game as intended.”