New boy Ben White could START against Croatia, Gareth Southgate needs to lay down the law on set-pieces and their Champions League finalists are desperately needed… EIGHT things we learned from England’s Euro 2020 warm-up wins
- England secured back-to-back wins in two Euro 2020 warm-up games this week
- Gareth Southgate got a chance to watch his fringe players stake their claims
- Results showed that England are reliant on their Man City and Chelsea stars
- There is also a keeper conundrum and the boss has to be stronger on set pieces
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here.
England head into Euro 2020 this week off the back of two warm-up wins against Austria and Romania, and with the weight of the country upon their shoulders.
Gareth Southgate’s side are one of the big favourites to go deep into the tournament, and with his squad finalised the boss now focuses his attention on the opening game against Croatia this Sunday.
While there were much-needed minutes for fringe players in the two warm-up games, plenty of questions were also raised by this week’s 180 minutes.
Here, Sportsmail takes a look at eight things we learned from the Three Lions’ fixtures…
Gareth Southgate got a chance to look at the majority of his fringe players in the warm-ups
A bit of a no-brainer, of course, but England desperately missed an influential group of players in their two warm-up matches this week.
The likes of Ben Chilwell, Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling and John Stones – who all played in the Champions League final – were given extra time off, meaning they weren’t involved in either game.
While that was a positive for some of the stars trying to force their way into contention, it meant the two games weren’t really a reflection of what the Three Lions will offer next weekend.
It did, though, prove that those players – as well as captain Harry Kane – are absolutely vital to England’s hopes of doing well in the tournament.
The two matches proved how much England rely on likes of Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling
Chelsea trio Reece James, Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell (L-R) are also vitally important
Southgate has to lay down the law
One of the more worrying moments came in the second half of the Romania game, when England won a penalty and Jordan Henderson took the ball off Dominic Calvert-Lewin, before going on to miss the spot-kick.
Not only did Calvert-Lewin win the penalty, but Southgate confirmed afterwards that for Henderson – who had only just come on the pitch – taking it was not in the script.
The Liverpool captain has taken plenty of stick on social media and Southgate revealed after the game that he will ‘ask Hendo what his thought process was’.
The England boss must be stronger going forward, because a similar situation in a tournament match could be the difference between winning and losing. He must lay down the law and get everyone on the same page.
Jordan Henderson took the ball off Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but went on to miss his penalty
Southgate must lay down the law and stop something similar happening at the tournament
James Ward-Prowse can count himself unlucky to not be in the final 26-man squad after playing well this week, and his exclusion gives Southgate a headache when it comes to free-kicks and corners.
The Southampton man is a dead-ball specialist and showed that with a series of impressive deliveries on both Wednesday and Sunday.
Now, the England boss needs to sit down and decide who’s on set pieces against Croatia… and fans will be begging him to not put Kane on corners again.
England will not have set-piece specialist James Ward-Prowse now, so who takes free-kicks?
Ben White a real contender to start
After confirming his place in the final 26-man squad, Brighton centre back Ben White now has a genuine chance of starting against Croatia following two impressive warm-up performances.
Southgate has opted to take the versatile 23-year-old in place of the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold, and he proved his worth in both central midfield against Austria and centre back against Romania.
Harry Maguire’s fitness is still a major concern and given his impressive start to life with England, White and John Stones at the heart of the defence against Croatia has now emerged as a serious option.
Ben White has a real chance of starting next weekend if Harry Maguire is not fully fit
England won’t blow teams away
Although Southgate has done a wonderful job as England manager, taking the team to the World Cup semi-finals back in 2018, it has become clear that his tactics and style of play will not lead to free-scoring affairs this summer.
Against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic, if England are to progress, it will be by winning games by a goal – or two at the very most. That is by no means a slight on the manager’s ability – it’s tournament football and he will set the team up to be defensively solid.
That said, with the wealth of attacking options that have flourished in the Premier League this season, there could well be some frustration from fans if the football isn’t brilliant to watch.
Despite the attacking talent, England won’t be firing four or five goals past opponents at Euros
There’s a goalkeeper conundrum
Jordan Pickford is Southgate’s long-time No 1 goalkeeper and he is likely to get the nod against Croatia – but Sam Johnstone’s performance on Sunday certainly gave the manager something to think about.
Two 1-0 wins last week reflects very well on the England defence, with both Pickford and Johnstone solid in their goalkeeping too.
Johnstone in particular, though, pulled off an incredible save against Romania, which left the ITV cameras immediately panning in on Pickford on the bench.
In reality, though, it’s Southgate we needed to see – it’s him making the big decision at the weekend, and it’s him that has plenty to weigh up over the coming days.
Sam Johnstone produced a world-class save against Romania to get Southgate thinking
Jordan Pickford is still likely to be No 1 against Croatia but the decision is not yet set in stone
Options if Maguire and Henderson aren’t fit
White, Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady have all played over the last few days, showing Southgate that he has centre backs he can rely on if the worst comes to the worst and Maguire isn’t fit and firing come next weekend.
Kalvin Phillips also played 45 minutes against Romania and there is a chance he will start should Henderson also not be ready.
All in all, though, the England boss will be happy with his squad depth and will know he can count on the entirety of his 26-man squad when it comes to the crunch.
Maguire (second left) is not 100 per cent fit but Southgate has good back-up options
Grealish is back
After his injury problems this season, it was brilliant to see Jack Grealish back to his best against Romania at the weekend. He collected the man-of-the-match award and really staked his claim for a starting spot at the Euros.
He lit up a mostly average England display and showed glimpses of why he will be so important in the coming weeks.
Earlier this week, Paul Ince claimed that the Aston Villa man could be the current squad’s Gascoigne – and those comparisons will only boost Grealish’s confidence ahead of potentially the biggest few weeks of his career.
Jack Grealish is back in fine form after his injury woes – just in time for a massive summer
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