Unsung heroes not unfit stars must be Gareth Southgate’s cunning plan | Barry Glendenning

England manager must learn from his predecessor’s failings when he picks his squad for this summer’s World Cup in Russia

If the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results”, it would come as no great surprise to discover quite a few senior figures in the Football Association headquarters wandering Blackadder style round their Wembley offices with their underpants on their head and a pencil up each nostril shouting “wibble”. England have a fondness for crow-barring star players who are not necessarily match fit into their squads for major tournaments and it is a policy that rarely yields dividends.

David Beckham famously went to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, where he performed reasonably but was clearly not firing on all cylinders after recovering from a broken metatarsal. Just back from a similar injury, Wayne Rooney could scarcely have been less effective at Germany 2006, a tournament that ended in ignominy for the striker when he was sent off in the 62nd minute of England’s quarter-final defeat on penalties at the hands of Portugal.

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