by Daisy Cutter

Despite England’s Euro exit being so vapid there has been a noticeable lack of the hand-wringing and national doom and gloom that usually follows an early flight home. The general consensus appears to be that we were simply not good enough at this stage of our development as we slowly claw ourselves into the modern world from decades of neanderthalic long-ball lumping and with Uncle Roy at the helm there is now the promise of shape and structure, a foundation on which to build.

I felt that way too until I spied a late-night tweet in the hours that followed England’s flailing display to the Italians. It simply read – ‘How many of the Spanish bench would be automatic starters for England?’

The question may initially appear to be fatuitous; after all, Spain are the current World and European champions and, by common admission, lightyears ahead of ourselves at this moment in time.

But if they are the ideal at which we must strive to at least aspire for – the level that garners trophies and glory – then the question becomes a very pertinent one indeed.

Because what it does is rather depressingly highlight is that half of the present England team would make way for players who are essentially Spanish reserves and consequently reveal just how far a road we must still travel….

Pepe Reina – At the risk of upsetting Liverpudlians who insist Jose Manuel ‘Pepe’ Reina Paez is the Premier League’s best keeper he is too prone to error in my opinion to be so and wouldn’t usurp Joe between the national sticks. Even so, to compare him to our current options on the bench borders on the unfair and it would also mean we don’t hold our collective breath every time Hart stays down. NO

Raul Albiol – Drafted in following Puyol’s enforced absence the Real Madrid defender’s versatility would make him a shoo-in for the England squad where he would likely see as much action for the Three Lions as for La Roja – none. He would however have saved Roy the controversy of selecting Kelly ahead of Ferdinand. NO

Javi Martinez – Equally adept at the back but if he was Gary Martins there is no question Hodgson would build his team around the artful craft and elegance of the Bilbao man. He would be our Pirlo. He would be our Scholes. Oh, wait… YES

Pedro Rodriguez – A Barca prodigy who lived up to the hype Pedro has devilish pace and puts defenders on the back foot from anywhere across the front three. His inclusion would have meant denying Welbeck his rise in stock or Young being considered a national villain but either way it’s hard to imagine such a technically gifted threat not being an automatic starter. YES

Cesc Fabregas – Milner may have manfully toiled but if Fab was born in Castleford rather than Catalonia then Gerrard would have been shifted to the right allowing the Barca man to orchestrate matters with Martinez in the middle. YES

Jesus Navas – Pacy, two-footed with a cute intelligence Navas may not be a starter but would certainly challenge the more one-dimensional Walcott as our game-changing option. It would also be kind of cool to say that God saves our Queen while his son plays for her. NO

Santi Cazorla – Blessed with every attribute we enviously covet – quick feet, a quicker brain and clever enough to vary his deliveries into the box – the Malaga winger would surely have made the squad. But a starter? NO

Juan Mata – Mata or Young? With the United winger’s dire tournament still a fresh pile of dung in our nostrils the question may be considered a no-brainer. However, though the Spaniard’s impish ingenuity and eye for a pass may be sumptuous at times he also has the worrying tendency to drift out of games completely for large spells. This is a closer call than at first glance but a potential midfield of Mata, Martinez, Fabregas and Gerrard swings it for me. YES

Juanfran Torres – The Atletic Madrid right winger may have been only one of two players selected from beyond el clasico and enjoyed a fantastic season but there would be no room for him in this England XI and arguably would even struggle to usurp Milner and Walcott for a squad place. The former for his work ethic and value of fresh legs, the latter to my mind just edges him out for his ability to trouble tiring full-backs late on. NO

Fernando Llorente – No matter how much we delude ourselves about our footballing evolution over the past twenty years the fact remains that we still overly value the virtues of having a big lad up front. The Bilbao targetman – nicknamed El Rey Leon (the Lion King) in Spain – is our dream number nine, possessing the skill, touch and technique the likes of Carroll and ‘Crouchy’ rely on others to provide. YES

Alvaro Negredo – Real Madrid striker with a better than one-in-two ratio for Spain ‘The beast of Vallecas’ is an infinitely more preferable option to Defoe on the bench but that aside would rarely see action in this team. NO