Sheffield Wednesday: Owls legend voices his concern over England's defence

Chris Waddle fears England's three-man defence will be exposed at some point in the World Cup.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 12:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 2:40 pm
Gareth Southgate embraces substitute Marcus Rashford after England's victory over Tunisia
Gareth Southgate embraces substitute Marcus Rashford after England's victory over Tunisia

Captain Harry Kane’s header in added on time helped Gareth Southgate’s side claim a hard-fought victory over Tunisia in their first match in the tournament on Monday night.

While Waddle was encouraged by England’s first half display in Volgograd, he has expressed his concerns over the backline, consisting of ex-Sheffield United youngsters Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker and former Barnsley player John Stones.

Tunisia's Wahbi Khazri and England's John Stones, right, battle for the ball during the FIFA World Cup Group G match at The Volgograd Arena, Volgograd.

Waddle, working as a pundit for the BBC during the competition, said: “We have not played a good side yet. Let’s be honest, Tunisia are one of the worst teams I’ve ever seen in a World Cup competition.

“Panama will be better slightly. There will be more shape to them and they will offer more going forward. Not a lot more but definitely more than Tunisia.

“I just think when we start to play the better teams that they can get at the back three and exploit them on the break.”

Former Sheffield Wednesday winger Waddle added: “John Stones is a wonderful footballer and talented. Maguire is great on the ball as well but I do believe you can get at them. You can’t run Kyle Walker but I think, at times, he stays a little too high and relies on his pace.

“I think that back three can get caught out.”

Kane opened the scoring in the 11th minute after Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen produced a stunning save to keep out Stones’ header.

But Tunisia dug deep and equalised from the penalty spot after Walker was penalised for impeding Fakhreddine Ben Youssef.

However, Kane spared England’s blushes to seal their first opening game victory at a major tournament in 12 years.

“We were excellent in the first half,” said Waddle. “The tempo and movement was good. I know they were playing, in my eyes, a very, very poor side but you still have to beat what is in front of you. If England had gone in four or five one up at half-time, Tunisia couldn’t have argued.

“Second half, they changed the system and went to five along the back and camped around the 18-yard line. We came off the pace.”

Waddle also branded the video assistant referee system as a “disgrace” after Kane appeared to be denied two certain penalties. He added that referee Wilmar Roldan “spoilt the game” and should not take charge of another match in the tournament.