Euro 2016 Team Guide: Questions remain over England hopes

Joe Hart England - Cropped
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An unbeaten qualifying campaign should see the Three Lions among the favourites to do well in France this summer, but do they really have the quality to shine on the big stage?

Coach: Roy Hodgson

Key player: Joe Hart

Qualifying form: W10, L0, D0

Top scorers in qualifying: Wayne Rooney (7), Danny Welbeck (6)

England made light work of a weak qualifying group, registering a 100 per cent record, but it remains a stretch to class Roy Hodgson's men as genuine candidates to lift the trophy in Paris on July 10.

Hodgson has moulded the Three Lions into a cohesive unit but the squad appears to lack the quality to challenge the very best in Europe.

There are also question marks around several key areas. 

In central defence, Hodgson has gone with Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling and John Stones.

Cahill had slipped behind Kurt Zouma in the pecking order at Chelsea prior to the latter suffering a season-ending knee injury in February, while Smalling has played a major role for Manchester United in the current campaign, despite their recent malaise.

Everton's John Stones will develop into an England regular in the not-too-distant future but the 22-year-old remains prone to lapses in concentration that may be seized upon at the highest level.

Stones' club team-mate Ross Barkley continues to shine in midfield and England will, undoubtedly, be stronger if Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson can stay injury free.

Tottenham's Dele Alli could also be a handful for defences if he can build on his impressive and eye-catching displays in an England shirt so far.

But they lack a leader in the centre of the park, a Steven Gerrard or Bryan Robson-type with the ability to drag them out of the mire should they fall behind.

And then there is the debate about how best to utilise Rooney. 

As captain, the Manchester United man is seemingly guaranteed a place in the side, most likely in an attacking midfield role behind a central striker, although he has played as a number nine in the past. 

That role is set to go to one of Jamie Vardy or Harry Kane - two players who sparkled in the Premier League in 2015-16 as Leicester City and Tottenham put together unlikely title challenges - while Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford's surprise inclusion could yet turn out to be a masterstroke from Hodgson.

The key man in the England XI, however, operates at the other end of the field. 

If England are to reach the latter stages, Joe Hart is going to have to have an excellent tournament.

History suggests the teams that claim the major prizes possess a world-class goalkeeper - Gianluigi Buffon (Italy: World Cup 2006), Iker Casillas (Spain: Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012) and Manuel Neuer (Germany: World Cup 2014).

Hart could elevate himself into that elite bracket with a series of match-defining displays in France.

England's hopes may depend on it.