England beat Bosnia at St James’ Park, but fringe players are not excelling

De Engelse aanvoerder Kieran Trippier hindert een tegenstander in de 3-0 overwinning van zijn ploeg op Bosnië <i>(Image: PA)</i>” bad-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/PuzNAYIjKRR4AM1McXqTEQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_northern_echo_uk_642/8f0a6407979d 00415e569f0d7e061377″ src= “https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/PuzNAYIjKRR4AM1McXqTEQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_northern_echo_uk_642/8f0a6407979d00415e5 69f0d7e061377″/><button class=

England captain Kieran Trippier thwarts an opponent in his side’s 3-0 win over Bosnia (Image: PA)

A COMFORTABLE victory, but hardly a convincing confirmation of England’s credibility ahead of the start of the European Championship. On a night when Gareth Southgate hoped some of his students would step out of the shadows, the England boss was instead reminded of the importance of his star players.

Cole Palmer scored his first international goal on his first international start, drilling home a second-half penalty just before being substituted, Trent Alexander-Arnold struck an excellent second goal and substitute Harry Kane notched his 63rd goal for England with one more minute to go.

Eberechi Eze showed flashes of the dribbling ability that lit up Selhurst Park in the second half of the season, and there were second-half debuts for Adam Wharton and Jarrad Branthwaite, so they will certainly look back on England’s visit to Tyneside with fondness.

However, for the majority of the sold-out St. James’ Park crowd, this was not a night that will live long in the memory. Not that it will matter whether Southgate’s side excel when the real business starts in Germany later this month.

Although last night’s match was billed as the first of two warm-up matches ahead of the European Championship, the reality is that only three players from the side that kicked off at St James’ have a realistic chance of being part of the team that the English competition will start. Group C opener against Serbia on June 16.

Jordan Pickford has built a solid reputation as England’s number one goalkeeper, and for once the Wearsider faced only sporadic boos when lining up on Tyneside. But even that was disappointing, on a night when club loyalty should have been cast aside.

Kieran Trippier was assured of a much warmer reception when he captained his country on his home pitch, and the fact that the Newcastle defender was lining up at left-back rather than in his more natural position on the right confirms his status as the most likely starter on the field. the left side of Germany’s back four if Luke Shaw does not recover from injury.

Alexander-Arnold is far from certain to start against Serbia, but with Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips finally jettisoned, there is a gap alongside Declan Rice at the heart of England’s first-choice midfield.

Kobbie Mainoo could fill it after his breakthrough season at Manchester United, but Gareth Southgate appears to have reservations about the teenager’s positional attributes. Alexander-Arnold’s background as a full-back means the defensive side of the game should come more naturally to him, but can he flourish as a midfielder in a major tournament?

Last night’s performance was an opportunity to make his case, and the clinical finish that later doubled England’s lead was accompanied by three or four of the Liverpudlian’s trademark long passes. Perhaps tellingly, Alexander-Arnold was most effective after being repositioned as a right-back in the second half.

Apart from Pickford, Trippier and Alexander-Arnold, the rest of the England players were almost certainly auditioning for a place in the final 26-man squad that Southgate must submit to UEFA before midnight on Friday.

In defense, Marc Guehi and Lewis Dunk are likely to take the lead over the much less experienced Branthwaite and Jarell Quansah, but Ezri Konsa, last night’s right-back, could be on the verge. In a position where England are particularly well supplied, this was not a performance that required his inclusion in the squad for the European Championship.

Conor Gallagher should be given a place in midfield, Palmer’s stellar season at Chelsea certainly guarantees him a place on the plane, and Ollie Watkins now appears to be firmly established as Southgate’s favorite number two behind Harry Kane.

Jarrod Bowen and Eze? They could well compete with Anthony Gordon, who missed last night’s match due to injury but should be available against Iceland on Friday, and Jack Grealish for a spot in the 26. Eze was the center for most of last night’s match smartest of the pair.

Given the patchwork nature of the England starting XI, it perhaps should have come as no surprise that much of the home side’s play was not fluid.

Watkins should have done better when he broke through Palmer’s through ball in the ninth minute and fired straight at Bosnian goalkeeper Nikola Vasilj, while Gallagher went close with a curling effort from the corner of the box that flew over.

However, it really was in terms of drama in the first half, apart from a few eye-catching dribbles from Eze that livened up an otherwise lifeless match.

In fact, Bosnia had the best chance before half-time, given to them by the kind of fundamental defensive error that has plagued England in countless tournaments. Guehi’s pass from the defense went straight to Haris Hajradinovic, but the Bosnian midfielder’s shot went narrowly wide.

In fairness, England upped the tempo in the second half, but as Alexander-Arnold Palmer’s through ball released in the area, the Chelsea striker’s shot was deflected behind. When Bowen sizzled another ball into Palmer’s path moments later, another shooting opportunity beckoned. But Palmer took too long to get his shot away, and the opportunity disappeared. Southgate turned to his bench in frustration, clearly feeling that a first try would have been the better bet.

But when the hour came, Palmer was presented with an opportunity he didn’t want to pass up. Benjamin Tahirovic pulled Konsa back at a corner, and although the foul was initially missed, a VAR review led to a penalty being awarded. As Kane waited to be introduced on the touchline, Palmer nervelessly drilled into the bottom corner.

Alexander-Arnold’s goal came with five minutes remaining and was the result of a clinical volley finish from Grealish’s cross, and Kane proved four minutes later that his predatory instincts are as sharp as ever. James Maddison’s shot was inadvertently blocked by Konsa, but the ball fell invitingly for Kane, who struck home.

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