Armfield warns of new test for England

Substitutes Sturridge and Rashford pleased Jimmy Armfield
Substitutes Sturridge and Rashford pleased Jimmy Armfield
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Jimmy Armfield has warned that England can expect a far different test when they take on Slovakia on Monday at Euro 2016.

England’s 2-1 win over Wales has all but clinched qualification for Roy Hodgson’s men but Slovakia could be a different proposition in the group decider.

Former Blackpool and England skipper Armfield told The Gazette: “Slovakia will be a bit more adventurous than we have seen so far and they have the ability to disturb defences.

“They have good players like (Marek) Hamsik and they beat Germany (3-1) in a friendly before the championship. Teams like this can be difficult to play against.”

Goals by substitutes Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge sealed England’s win, and Armfield said Wales lacked such attacking options.

“Roy Hodgson did the right thing, bringing them on,” he said. “He had the one thing Chris Coleman, the Welsh manager lacked – the luxury attacking players to call on . Hodgson had five attackers, while Wales struggled up front.

“I was pleased to see Marcus Rashford get his chance. He could be very good and he certainly seems to have something about him.

“In the end it was a question of all that pressure telling for England, though both goals came through a sea of defenders.”

England’s win makes them odds-on to qualify, while Northern Ireland and Wales could yet make it a full house for British teams in the last 16.

Armfield said: “Wales still have a chance but there is a lot hanging on Gareth Bale. Michael O’Neill has really got Northern Ireland going and they seem to have get-up-and-go about them.”

Armfield played for England against Wales on numerous occasions, and it was after one such meeting in the 1960s at Cardiff’s Ninian Park that he forged a lasting friendship with the late Sir Tom Finney.

He said: “I pulled a hamstring in that match and spent most of the match limping. Tom, who was working for the News of the World, came into our dressing room after the match and saw I had been injured.

“He was kind enough to give me a lift home. He lived in Preston and he took me to Blackpool – that was the start of our friendship.”