Capello needs to be forward thinking, believes Mills

Danny Mills fears England will continue to struggle at major tournaments until they find a strike partnership which can see them challenge world football’s superpowers.

So far Fabio Capello’s side are on course for Euro 2012 after collecting 10 points from 12 ahead of today’s Group G qualifier against Switzerland at Wembley.

But they will be without the suspended Wayne Rooney and the injured Jermain Defoe against the Swiss, with Darren Bent expected to start, and Peter Crouch and Bobby Zamora in contention.

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“Our striking options have been a concern for some time,” former Leeds and England defender Mills told the Yorkshire Post. “The last real partnership we had was Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham, and they had Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler just breaking on to the scene as back-up, along with Andy Cole.

“But when I think back to our squad at the 2002 World Cup, Michael Owen was partnered by Darius Vassell and then Emile Heskey. England hasn’t had a fantastic strike partnership that has worked for a long time.

“Yes, we have had fantastic players in Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney but, because of injury or whatever, England have struggled up front. The fact that Rooney is out is a bit of a worry. Darren Bent is a good player, so are Crouch and Zamora – but if I am going to be honest I wouldn’t put them as world-class players.

“Would they get into the Argentina, Brazil, Spain or even France, Germany teams? I don’t think they would. It’s an old adage in the game that you are only as good as your front two; you have to score goals to win games and maybe because of this, it puts England down as eighth, ninth or 10th in the world.

“To win a tournament you have got to score goals. Occasionally, as Jose Mourinho has done, in European football you can play very defensively and play on the break. But until we get two or three really good strikers, England are always going to struggle at the highest international level.”

Mills was speaking at The FA’s Your Kids Your Say Roadshow event at Valley Parade, where he and another former England defender, Gareth Southgate, spoke about the need for change to grass-roots football.

Mills is backing radical proposals for the youth game in this country, which are being overseen by Southgate in his role as FA Head of Elite Development, and believes that until their long-term effect is felt, England will continue to flatter to deceive.

“Qualification is looking pretty straightforward, as was the last one.

“With the players that they have, England should qualify top of their group for every tournament,” he added.