Wayne Bridge: ‘I’d like to see Ivan Toney come in for Harry Kane against Holland’

 | Monday 8th July 2024, 7:31am

Monday 8th July 2024, 7:31am

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Harry Kane’s form at Euro 2024 continues to come under scrutiny. Betfred’s Euro 2024 ambassador Wayne Bridge believes that despite Kane being an “unbelievable player”, that he’d prefer to see Ivan Toney come into the side against the Netherlands on Wednesday evening. In our latest interview with Wayne, he spoke to us regarding which system he’d like England to implement against Holland, which Dutch players they need to be wary of and Ben Chilwell’s future at Chelsea.  

Euro 2024 Betting Tips: 

  • England to win Euro 2024 @ 5/2
  • England to beat Holland (Euro 2024 Semi-Final) @ 13/8

Overall, what’s your opinion of Saturday’s penalty shootout victory over Switzerland? How did you rate the performance? What positives were there for you?

“Well it was definitely better in terms of the performance but with the players we’ve got, you’d like to think that we could dominate the game a bit more. In the other games, I don’t believe we’ve really pressed higher up, so to see them do that against Switzerland was definitely a positive.

“I believe the change of formation was also a positive, even though it’s a different system to what I would have preferred. We were just better than what we have been, so you can’t really complain about the result in the end. The penalty takers were excellent and the composure shown was really impressive from these young lads. I was so happy for [Bukayo] Saka that he scored. I just didn’t want any of them to miss because I know what it must feel like if you do. You have the weight of the nation on your shoulders and there’s so much pressure there. If you do miss, then there's the potential stick you can get that affects both the player and their family. Penalty shootouts are horrible, but I was just buzzing for them all that they won it.”

Do you believe England need to continue with this  3-4-2-1 formation for the remainder of the tournament? 

“Not necessarily. I’ve always said that I’d prefer them to play with a back four, Jude Bellingham alongside Declan Rice in the midfield, Phil Foden in the number 10 role, Bukayo Saka and Cole Palmer on the wings and a forward up top. I would have just liked them to have kept the same formation from the games before Switzerland and just change the personnel around a little bit. 

“I love Palmer as a player and I know that a lot of other people have been calling for him to play more. He’s just so exciting to watch and he’s always looking to make something happen. As a team, we look as if we’re just waiting for someone because there’s not a lot of movement going on, but Cole can pass the ball and he’s very active so instead of bringing him on late, I’d like to see him start to be honest.”

Why do you believe Harry Kane is struggling to get himself involved as often as expected in some of the England games we’ve seen so far at Euro 2024?

“We’re through, so I don’t think we can complain too much. We haven’t pressed too well as a team in general and I don’t know if that’s due to tiredness or what they’ve worked on in training, but that certainly improved against Switzerland. In terms of it not really working for Harry, he’s obviously an unbelievable player that’s achieved so much, but I just believe that whenever we’ve changed things and someone’s come on, that it looks as if something’s going to happen and it brings something different. 

“It would be a big statement for somebody to come out and say “drop Harry Kane”, but if you’re in the manager’s position, then can you really drop him? I would like to see it however, just to see how things change. However, if Harry goes and scores the winner against the Netherlands, then nobody will be talking about whether he should be dropped.” 

What changes to the line-up would you make for the semi-final against the Netherlands?

“Luke Shaw would come in for me, as I’d definitely prefer there to be a left footer at left-back. Marc Guéhi would come back in as he’s been brilliant. I’d switch to a back four, have Bellingham alongside Rice, Foden in the number ten role, Palmer and Saka on the wings, where they can switch, and I’d love to see either Ivan Toney or Ollie Watkins get more of a chance. It’s a big call to drop Harry Kane, but it’s one of them that I wish they did in the final group game which they didn’t desperately have to win because it would have been good to experiment and see how it goes. If you asked me whether or not to drop Harry Kane, then I’d probably say yes and have Ivan Toney up front but in Gareth’s position, it would be a very difficult call to make.”

What are the biggest threats that the Netherlands pose to England in particular and which of their players should England be wary of most?

“They’re just a good team in general aren’t they? Their defence is very good with Virgil van Dijk and Nathan Aké, they’ve got Cody Gakpo up front scoring goals and some people may argue that they’ve got one of the best squads at the Euros. They’ve got Tijjani Reijnders who dictates the play, so you’ve got to make sure that he doesn’t get too much time on the ball. Xavi Simons is very creative too, so it’s going to be a very tough game for England. 

“Holland are a better opposition than what England have faced already, so hopefully that will allow them to lift their game. England are good enough on paper to go and beat them and there’s a chance that they can win the tournament not playing particularly well, but they’ll want to go out on Wednesday and play well but I just hope that playing against better opposition will allow them to up their game. I’m sure they’re up for every game, but I’m hoping that playing against a team like Holland will bring the best out of them. They’re going to have to press Holland, otherwise they could be opened up.”

Despite their performances throughout the tournament, when you consider the strength of England’s squad overall, do you believe this is a golden generation or do you believe the real golden generation was the squad’s you were a part of in the mid 2000s?

“They’re two different eras. Football’s different now and I believe it’s really difficult to compare the two. We had the likes of Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole. I’d say that Kyle Walker is a player from the current era that could have played in that team and possibly one or two more, but you can be biased because you’ve played with them, trained with them and realised how good they are. 

“I think it’s too hard to compare but what I do know is that on paper, this current England squad is one of the best in the world. At the moment, it just hasn’t clicked but the mentality of the boys is brilliant. The lads that took the penalties on Saturday showed a lot of mental strength. The way Saka stood up and took another penalty was very, very brave. I’d be lying to myself if I said that I would have wanted to take one.”

The Telegraph has claimed that Ben Chilwell could fall victim to Chelsea’s latest managerial change and has an “uncertain future” at Stamford Bridge. If the decision was yours, would you definitely want to keep Ben or can you understand the reasons for why Enzo Maresca would consider selling him?

“I’d look to keep him, but he just has to stay fit. He’s missed a lot of games for Chelsea but if he can stay fit, then I don’t know why you’d want to get rid of him, unless there’s something going on in the background that we don’t know about. I just believe that Ben has a lot of ability and is capable of proving himself, as long as he stays fit. He’s going to have to prove himself if the manager is uncertain about him, but a manager’s head can be turned by a player rather than them being stubborn enough to just force someone out. If Ben does well, then he’s still got a chance of remaining at Chelsea. There’s not an abundance of left-backs out there and Ben’s a great one.”

If Chilwell was to depart, then do you believe Marc Cucurella is good enough to be Chelsea’s first choice left-back next season or will they have to go into the transfer market for a new one?

“I believe they’ll have to buy a new one if Ben Chilwell was to leave. Marc did really well at Brighton, he’s done okay for Spain, but it hasn’t really worked out for him at Chelsea really. It’s hard, when you move clubs, to continue playing as well as you have been. You can play in different formations and you’re playing with different players. Just because you’ve done really well for one club doesn’t mean that you’re going to automatically click within another. It doesn’t always go that way. If the decision was mine, out of the two I’d be keeping Ben Chilwell.”

A player that’s stood out at Euro 2024 and been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge is Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa. He was amazing in their penalty shootout victory over Slovenia, saving three, and do you believe he’s an upgrade on Chelsea duo Đorđe Petrović and Robert Sánchez? Do you believe either of the pair have long-term futures at Stamford Bridge?

“Chelsea want to be challenging and they want to be the best. I played with Petr Čech and Carlo Cudicini who were both great goalkeepers, Petr Čech was absolutely outstanding in fact, and I’m unsure that Petrović and Sánchez can get to that standard so with that being said, Costa would definitely be an upgrade. If you want to challenge and compete with the best, then you’ve got to have the best players and Costa would be an upgrade that Chelsea probably need. They need an upgrade in a few areas, but they definitely need a goalkeeper in my eyes. You need a solid defence and goalkeeper if you want to be challenging for honours.”

Chelsea signings so far this summer have been Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Omari Kellyman and Marc Guiu but in your opinion, which players, and in which positions, should Chelsea be targeting this summer and who would you love to see them sign?

“They need a centre-back and a goalkeeper because you need a strong backbone. They have a lot of midfielders already, so I’d probably say that they need to add a striker too. Riccardo Calafiori, the Italy centre-back, looks good and he’s young as well, so you’d get a few years out of him and he’d be quite a good signing. I’d like to see them sign Alexander Isak from Newcastle this summer because I believe he would be a good signing as well. 

“Recruitment’s so hard. Who can Chelsea attract this summer? They have managers being sacked left, right and centre and there’s no Champions League football, so who’re they going to attract? Do they attract the biggest names, or do they go somewhere else now? It’s a difficult one. Would Calafiori and Isak even want to go there? I don’t know. It’s just been so messy at Chelsea recently.”

 

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