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          Could this week have changed Southgate’s mind...

          Where do England stand after the final friendlies?

          2021/06/07 15:25
          Connor Andrews
          E0

          A slightly Liverpool-centric end to England’s Euro 2020 preparations began with Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury against Austria and ended with some big question marks around Jordan Henderson’s fitness, how Gareth Southgate deals with those issues could be make or break.

          The addition of Ben White to the 26-man squad answers some questions, with Harry Maguire yet to play for over a month, and Southgate will be facing the same dilemma as many of his peers at the tournament.

          International sides across Europe have moved towards back threes as a handy tactic to make up for defensive deficiencies (hello Belgium) and Southgate looked to be moving towards the same approach that brought success in 2018.

          Yet these final two friendlies which both saw 4-2-3-1s suggest the option possibly isn’t there, despite John Stones and Kyle Walker soon returning to the fold.

          Stones, despite a double-winning season, has shown his vulnerability without a number one centre back next to him, and that option possibly doesn’t exist due to Harry Maguire’s condition. 

          ©Getty / John Berry
          What Southgate does possess though, is an excellent screen in front, with Declan Rice looking like the perfect cover for a possibly shaky back two, while Kalvin Phillips and Jude Bellingham have shown there’s depth in the slot alongside him.

          Henderson’s fitness in that midfield two remains a huge concern, but Bellingham is increasingly looking undroppable, whether Southgate is brave enough to start a 17-year-old is another question.

          Ahead, Jack Grealish has shown he can provide exactly what has been advertised at Aston Villa, with his ability to progress the ball up the pitch at a world class level, helped by Harry Kane ahead.

          One lesson that has been learned, and should have been observed from Kane’s performances for Tottenham this season, is his elite level playmaking ability and number 10 play, meaning he shouldn’t be the furthest player forward on the pitch.

          This should help Southgate decide what to do either side of his captain on the wings, with pace an absolute necessity, and if Marcus Rashford can find respite from his poor season at Manchester United, he could end up being one of the tournament’s key players.
           

          England
          Marcus Rashford
          NameMarcus Rashford
          Born1997-10-31(23 -yrs-old)
          Nationality
          England
          England
          PositionForward (2.º avançado) / Forward (Left Wing)

          Photos(50)

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