Martin Smith column: This could be the year ... or maybe not

Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy
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It’s started well enough.

England smashing Sri Lanka all over the place in the first Test at Headingley and the other England edging past Turkey 2-1 in their first Euros warm-up game on Sunday evening.

Jessica Ennis-Hill

Jessica Ennis-Hill

Good signs all round?

Both teams have good recent records, fresh and exciting teams, proven managers and the will of the nation behind them.

But there’s a fundamental difference. The cricketers have proved their worth in recent months, Hodgson’s choice has yet to do that despite their 10-win qualification record.

All seems rational and fair so far with Vardy and Kane in form, Rooney re-born in midfield, Alli and Dier giving creativity and stability and Sturridge offering flickers of enigmatic genius.

Already there is excitement and expectation where experience tells us there should be neither.

How many times have we raised our collective hopes and been humiliated by results and performances?

Has there ever been a tournament in which we haven’t at some stage thought: “Hey, we might have a chance this time …”

And then gone into a national spoilt-brat strop when it falls apart.

So let’s get it out of the way now.

Our defence is about as secure as Louis Van Gaal’s job - if he still has one by the time you read this.

None of the centre-back pairings look particularly sound and while the full-backs are great at ‘bombing on’ they can be caught out defensively.

We still rely too much on Rooney, Vardy will be sent off for diving and we’ll be taking our flags of St George down by mid June.

All the talk of this being the best young England team since … the last best young England team is foolish and delusional.

There, doesn’t that feel better already?

Meanwhile, here she comes again …

Jessica Ennis-Hill is back on track for the summer after recovering from a serious Achilles injury.

Just when her rivals might have been thinking she might not be there to defend her Olympic title later this summer, she gives the biggest indicator yet this year that she will be fit and ready for Rio.

No surprise for anyone there.

She didn’t break any records with her 41.69-metre javelin throw but you can bet your life there the news brought a few resigned sighs among fellow heptathletes …

Go Jess, say we.