EMILE HESKEY always put the team ahead of individual glory and believes Gareth Southgate must bench one of his big stars for the same reason.
Fans and pundits have been calling on the England manager to start Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Mason Mount at the Euros this summer.
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Emile Heskey believes Gareth Southgate must bench one of his big stars to achieve Euro glory[/caption]
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But ex-Three Lions hitman Heskey insists it is about picking the best XI rather than the best individuals.
That means dropping one of the trio for runners like Raheem Sterling or Marcus Rashford.
A key reason why Heskey won 62 caps was because his selfless style of play brought out the best in strike partner Michael Owen.
The big man in the Liverpool and England little-and-large pairing may have had an inferior goals record to other forwards.
But his combination with Owen, as well as Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe, made him a favourite for numerous national bosses.
Heskey, 43, told SunSport: “You’ve seen it before, having all the best players on the pitch doesn’t necessarily mean you have the best team.
“It’s got to gel, it has to flow, it’s got to have some fluency. It will be interesting to see how Gareth does it.
“Mine and Michael’s partnership blossomed because we understood what each other wanted.
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“We worked on it. We understood if one was coming in, then the other was going long. You definitely need to have those runners to stretch the game.
“Raheem is always making runs in behind, which is great because that stretches it. It gives you options. We have three great players in Mount, Foden and Grealish, for two places.”
England kick off their Euro 2020 campaign tomorrow against Croatia, who beat them in the World Cup semi-final three years ago.
Sterling started that game alongside Harry Kane — but this time round his spot is no longer guaranteed.
That is due to the emergence of a number of players, including his Manchester City team-mate Foden.
Heskey had his ups and downs during his international career — suffering criticism for his displays at Euro 2004.
But the ex-Leicester star reckons England could benefit from Sterling’s limited game-time with City.
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Raheem Sterling’s lack of game-time for Man City could benefit England this summer[/caption]
Heskey added: “It’s great for England that he’s possibly fresher.
“It’s not physical, it’s mental tiredness you suffer from when you’re playing time and again. You want a little bit of a break.
“I think it would be great for him coming into a major tournament.
“For him, it’s about getting his head down and doing the things that have got him to where he is now. Why is he in the team?
“What is it that Gareth wants from him? Go and do that.
“His best thing is running in behind, getting out wide and taking people on.
“As long as he does that, nine times out of ten you’d put him in.
“Yes, you’ve got other young players emerging now — so he needs to be on his toes.
“But you can’t take away what he brings to the team. Having Raheem, you don’t realise how much fear that puts into opponents.”
Marcus Rashford would 100 per cent be starting in attack for Emile Heskey[/caption]
Whether he picks Sterling or not, Southgate will likely be searching for a way to get Foden in too after his brilliant campaign.
The PFA Young Player of the Year looks ready to catch the eye if his new ‘Gazza Euro 96’ blond hairdo is anything to go by.
Heskey knows what it is like to have a fearless whizkid come into the squad and light up their first major tournament.
For that is exactly what a teenage Rooney did in 2004.
Heskey recalled: “When you’re going into the national team, you can’t be shy. You’ve got to go out there and showcase what you’ve got, especially in training.
“That’s what Wayne did. He was never one to shirk responsibility, he was never one to shy away from anything.
“You’d have conversations with Wayne and he would say, ‘If I was a centre-back, I’d be the best centre-back in the world’.
“This is where you’re drawing the comparison — because you’re wanting these lads to go out and express themselves, to play with no fear.
Emile Heskey was part of the Euro 2004 squad when Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene[/caption]
“Phil Foden, dying his hair, is it a case of him saying, ‘I’m the man to step up to the plate because I’m going to be the next Gazza’?
“We’ve been touting everyone to be the next Gazza, can he be the real next Gazza?”
Southgate has copped flak for including big injury doubts Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire.
Roy Keane was particularly critical, jokingly suggesting the Liverpool skipper was only included to do card tricks and organise team quizzes.
But Heskey feels there is genuine merit in taking senior pros, even if they do not kick a ball — particularly with the squad being boosted to 26.
He said: “Imagine as a younger player who is quite shy and doesn’t really feel he can step into certain places and own it, you have senior players who help you with that.
“I had Martin Keown and I had Gareth. I had players like that.
“There are more young players in this squad, so you need the senior players to help them.”
David Beckham played a similar role at the 2010 World Cup, when he travelled with the team despite being ruled out with a ruptured Achilles.
Heskey added: “We took Becks more as an ambassador.
“But he was around us all the time. Having him there, eating with us and having a little chat, even just playing table-tennis or watching the games, it was great.”
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