England got the best of Austria in a sluggish affair at Middlesbrough’s Riverside stadium on Tuesday night.
Although it was only a friendly, with the purpose of warming the side up before the Euro’s commence in eight days, with 10 until England’s opening fixture against Croatia, there is plenty to discuss.
Here are the talking points.
Super JackEmbed from Getty Images
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish had an excellent game.
Right from the first whistle it was apparent that he would be a focal point of England’s attack, occupying the number 10 role. It was also clear that Austria were aware of this, as they looked to foul the 25-year old at any opportunity.
Every time that Grealish was on the ball, there was a sense of excitement, both around the ground or just simply just sat at home, as he was England’s most dangerous player throughout, before being replaced with 20 minutes to go.
This performance was a positive sign that Grealish has overcome the shin injury that curtailed the second half of his Premier League season. Additionally, with a performance like this, his case for a starting berth this summer can only have strengthened.
A big summer ahead for England’s new number seven.
Heartbreak for Trent?Embed from Getty Images
After making Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad, despite much media fanfare and many rumours, there was a buzz amongst England fans at the thought of Trent Alexander-Arnold returning to the England setup.
The right-back was omitted from the last international squad in March, and many questioned the possibility of Southgate calling-up four right-backs. However, he would do exactly that.
However, Trent’s England reprise may be over before it even truly started.
With just a few minutes remaining, after a solid showing at right-back, Trent signalled to the bench that something was wrong – just moments after a routine clearance with no players around him.
The Liverpool starlet looked in some discomfort as he was assessed by the England medical team pitch-side, before being assisted down the tunnel with a look of discomfort on his face.
Later revealed as a suspected thigh issue, Alexander-Arnold will wait with baited breath in the next 24/48 hours, as the extent of the injury is revealed.
It’ll be a real blow and a massive shame if Trent is forced to miss out.
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Plenty for England to work onEmbed from Getty Images
Despite the win, it was more of a crawl across the line, as opposed to the resounding victory many England fans wanted to see.
Whilst, the result and performance in friendly fixtures isn’t necessarily top priority, with fitness, avoiding injury and finding the best 11 to start the tournament all more important, both still important.
To sum up England’s performance in one word; Lacklustre.
Despite strong individual performances from the likes of, 17-year old, Jude Bellingham, West Ham’s Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka and the aforementioned Jack Grealish, as a whole, England were far from sublime.
The team lacked fluidity, Harry Kane was rarely involved, having to drop incredibly deep to involve himself in the action.
The struggle continued for Kane, as he squandered his only real chance of the match, firing straight at Austrian ‘keeper, Daniel Bachmann from close range.
With just one friendly left, the hope will be for a bit more fluidity and a stronger performance before the Euro’s commence.
Bellingham ready for actionEmbed from Getty Images
What a talent we have in Jude Bellingham.
Aged just 17, the Borussia Dortmund wonderkid once again showed maturity and quality beyond his years on Tuesday night.
His case for inclusion into the squad has grown and grown almost every week it seems, as fans and pundits alike rave over his performances in Germany and in Europe for Dortmund.
Bellingham has an excellent physical presence, as well as fantastic technically ability, making him a very complete player.
Following his string of strong performances, the questions surrounding Bellingham will now be does he deserve to start?
You wouldn’t complain, would you?
With Jordan Henderson in a race for fitness, if Gareth Southgate continues to push ahead with his use of the 4-2-3-1 formation, or even a 4-3-3, Bellingham will be primed for a starting spot alongside Declan Rice.
Bellingham has gone from a player many would’ve included in the squad for experience, to a player in the conversation for a starting spot – completely on merit.
What a talent we have on our hands.
Featured image credit: (Photo by Laurence Griffiths – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)