Euro 2020: England give Gareth Southgate plenty to think about with win against Austria
England got their Euro 2020 preparations off to a winning start against Austria at the Riverside Stadium.
Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look at what manager Gareth Southgate might have learned from the friendly.
The future looks bright
Jude Bellingham impressed as part of a midfield pair with Declan Rice as the duo with a combined age of just 39 looked very much at home in the makeshift England team. Not to be outdone by his Borussia Dortmund counterpart, the only other teenager in the team, Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, turned into England’s match-winner with his first international goal since making his debut in October.
The absence of big players was felt
Southgate was without 11 key players from the three English clubs involved in the Champions League and Europa League finals and in their place were a number of players who have not been selected in the Euro 2020 squad. England struggled at times without many of their experienced stars, something the manager will look to address before the tournament starts.
The fans are not all on board with the message
Some England fans booed when England and Austria players took the knee, and it was more than just a few isolated voices. Although it was soon drowned out by cheers and applause, Southgate admitted it could send a message to the diverse national squad. The England manager said the message behind taking the knee before kick-off is being lost, but on the first time the players have made the anti-racism gesture in front of a home crowd, it was noticeable.
The season has taken its toll
The night ended with Trent Alexander-Arnold hobbling off the field and Jack Grealish was seen icing his knee after being substituted. It is not yet clear whether the right-back, whose inclusion in Southgate’s 26-man squad was one of the main talking points before the match, will even be ale to feature in the tournament. Fortunately, Grealish, who was one of England’s more promising performers on the night, is reportedly fine and his substitution was precautionary.
The warning signs
Although it racks up another victory for England, a number of issues were raised during the game. On a night when VAR was not available, Tyrone Mings could be considered lucky to have got away with a reckless challenge and debutant Ben Godfrey almost scored an own-goal with a back-pass that goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was just able to clear. However, the goalkeeper, who is likely to be the number one choice for the tournament, spilled a shot in front of him in the later stages of the game.
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