England manager Roy Hodgson has defended the performance of attacking trio Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and captain Wayne Rooney after the three-pronged attack failed to fire in the friendly win over Portugal at Wembley. Hodgson's side concluded their preparations for the European Championships with a third straight win, which saw a variety of formations trialled without success.
Hodgson began with Kane and Vardy spearheading the attack, with Rooney are the top of a midfield diamond and Dele Alli on the left. It led to a disjointed display until a flurry of late changes which included the introduction of Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Jack Wilshere helped grab the late win.
Chris Smalling headed home the 86th minute winner over 10-man Portugal - who were without Cristiano Ronaldo and had Bruno Alves sent off in the first half - but how England will line up against Russia on 11 June remains unknown. Hodgson was however content with the display of his front three, whose unnatural positions were down to their defensive responsibilities.
"When you play that system you need your strikers to split," he explained. "If you play them down the middle and Rooney in behind them you'll never be able to defend the wide areas.
"If you play me moments back in the game you might be right and there were moments when they were too wide. But basically speaking that will have to be their job, they'll have to make sure they split and then come together and if we're playing with a man in behind he'll have to get forward and make sure he supports them."
The limp win over the Portuguese sees England enter Euro 2016 with three successive wins, having beaten Turkey and Australia in recent weeks. Hodgson hopes to maintain that momentum going into the tournament in France where his side start as outsiders in group with Russia, Wales and Slovakia.
"I'd like to think it is important," he added. "You never suffer from winning matches, you suffer from defeats. We haven't sailed through the matches, each one of the matches has posed us some problems.
"Each one of the matches has shown up areas that we would like to work on and improve upon so even that is positive. The two and half weeks we have been together have been a very intensive time.
"The players have been excellent in the way they have buckled down, worked hard to improve the shape in our team and movements in attack and shape in defence. I am happy that we are on the right track as far as that's concerned and we got to France reasonably confident that we can keep this going and knowing full well that we're not the finished article."