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Scholesy: 'England need players with balls'

The former Manchester United midfielder doesn’t hold back and reserves majority of his criticism for the English defence.

PAUL SCHOLES FEELS England’s World Cup defeat to Uruguay was the result of poor defending with the back four ‘found out a bit’ against the South Americans.

Writing in his latest column for Paddy Power, the ex-midfielder was critical of Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka’s lack of flexibility and ball-playing skills while Scholes has reservations about the defensive capabilities of both Glen Johnson and Leighton Baines.

Roy’s close to finding something – but he needs two young centre-halves that have the balls to play, the balls to step into midfield now and again and full-backs who can defend. We’ve got two full-backs now in Leighton Baines and Glen Johnson who are great going forward – but we’ve got great forwards already.”

Brazil Soccer WCup Uruguay England Source: Felipe Dana/AP/Press Association Images

In the aftermath of Thursday’s defeat, many England supporters have wondered whether John Terry could have made a difference if he was still involved with the team and though Scholes believes a younger Terry or Rio Ferdinand may have calmed things down defensively, he does feel another player that was left out of Roy Hodgson’s squad should have been in Brazil.

Not bringing Ashley Cole was probably a mistake – not so much for his attacking qualities – but more his defensive ones. I think Baines and the whole of the back four have been found out a bit. It’s been argued that John Terry could have steadied the ship and taken command – but he’s not getting any younger either. Ideally what was needed was a young John Terry and a Rio Ferdinand in his prime to marshal the defence.”

Brazil Soccer WCup Uruguay England Source: Thanassis Stavrakis/AP/Press Association Images

Steven Gerrard has come in for criticism after his under-inspiring performance against the Uruguayans and especially for his role in the concession of a second goal. But Scholes thinks the England skipper shouldn’t be blamed after a long, tough domestic campaign with Liverpool.

There’s no way you can blame Steven Gerrard for not getting more on the ball from a header in the middle of the park for Luis Suarez’s second goal. The defenders didn’t sense the danger. Joe Hart has looked a bit shaky too – but we don’t really have anyone to replace him. The Liverpool and England captain hasn’t had a great tournament by his standards. He’s not the box-to-box player he once was. It’s not easy to keep up those high levels of performance – particularly after the season he’s had with Liverpool’s title challenge.”

Brazilian newspapers have some fun after England’s result against Uruguay

Won’t someone think of the grannies? RTÉ pundits bring their darkest material to air at World Cup time

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Eoin O'Callaghan

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