25th March 2016. By Karl Matchett.
Captain, record goalscorer, centurion of the national team for caps earned and an absolute guaranteed passenger on England's plane to Euro 2016-but Wayne Rooney continues to divide opinion over whether he really is part of the nation's best XI any more.

Roy Hodgson will have to do without his skipper over the upcoming friendly games, but with fixtures against Germany and Netherlands providing a good test of the team's current progress and how well they might expect to do at the European Championships, the boss has to use this opportunity to find a system which works in attack with the other options at his disposal. Not only that, if he does come across a combination which works particularly well, he must be prepared to take that into the Euros, even if it means leaving Rooney on the bench.

The forwards involved for the double-header include some interesting potential pairings.

A big problem with discussing who could work well together is that England don't even have a recognisable first-choice starting system; the diamond, a 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 systems have all been utilised in qualifiers and friendly games since the 2014 World Cup came to a terrible ending, at least as far as England are concerned.

In general, it can be suggested that England will have one starting centre-forward, though, with one supporting from deeper, or else two wide forwards attempting to join up with a single striker.

In the squad this time are Premier League top scorer Harry Kane, Player of the Year candidate Jamie Vardy, Hodgson favourite Danny Welbeck and Liverpool's excellent but injury-prone Daniel Sturridge. While the latter might be a starting choice if his fitness levels could be guaranteed heading into the summer tournament, the simple fact is that it cannot, and thus Hodgson would be wise to look elsewhere for a starting pairing.

Kane is likely to get the nod, having scored three in just eight games at international level and showing with Spurs that he can carry an attack on his own at times, leaving Hodgson with a tactical, as much as personnel, decision as to who to play with him.

Dele Alli has been a revelation at Tottenham this season and Kane has already alluded to the two of them playing in tandem at international level, too. Alli is raw but technically gifted, fast and aggressive in the final third and, while playing predominantly as an attacker, has the capacity to drop into midfield when out of possession too. The same can be said of Ross Barkley, but he hasn't shown the consistency of Alli over the past few months.

From the forwards, Welbeck has the best strike record at international level, hitting 14 in 33 and playing a big part previously in qualifying for England under Hodgson, and he also puts in the leg work to help the rest of the attack function. Whether playing as a forward-with Kane just off him-or as one of the wide forwards, Welbeck's status as a team player as well as someone who can impact in the penalty box means he has a great chance of being involved at Euro 2016. Whether he links well with Kane is critical, though, to whether he can be a starter or a bench option.

Vardy and Sturridge, as things stand, probably look as though they'll have to have a big impact off the bench to force their way back to the front of the queue, but both have goals in their boots and pace to burn-something the other candidates can lack. Either could be tournament super subs, if their attitude is right, but both could also be used as in-from-out wide forwards, genuine attacking threats. It would necessitate the centre of midfield being absolutely on point, because they would only track back in the channels a certain amount, but both being either side of Kane would certainly be a statement of intent to attack from Hodgson.

There aren't many games left before England's Euro 2016 campaign begins and Hodgson cannot afford to waste these two fixtures with random rotating or doling out the caps without meaning. If he stumbles across a system which yields reward in the final third, he has to be prepared to stick with it and let the team flourish-even if that comes at the expense of playing Rooney.