Play­ers aim­ing to take their chance for Three Lions

The National - News - - SPORT FOOTBALL - Richard Jolly

As Eng­land pre­pare to take on Kosovo in their Euro 2020 qual­i­fier in Pristina to­day, we take a look at what the Three Lions can learn.

See if Mad­di­son is the right cre­ator

Gareth South­gate has usu­ally been quick to blood young tal­ent. Not in James Mad­di­son’s case; the Le­ices­ter flair player had cre­ated more chances than any­one else in the Premier League since the start of last sea­son be­fore get­ting a be­lated in­ter­na­tional de­but, 13 months af­ter his first call-up, as a sub­sti­tute against Mon­tene­gro.

With qual­i­fi­ca­tion se­cure, South­gate should start Mad­di­son to give him an ex­tended op­por­tu­nity. Com­pe­ti­tion for four at­tack­ing mid­field­ers spots at most means sev­eral among Ross Barkley, Alex

Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain, Ma­son Mount, Dele Alli, Jesse Lin­gard, Ruben Lof­tus-Cheek and Mad­di­son are set to be dis­ap­pointed.

Give Abra­ham a go

Tammy Abra­ham is the sec­ond top scorer in the Premier League and the one more pro­lific player, Jamie Vardy, re­tired from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball af­ter real­is­ing his fate was to be Harry Kane’s deputy.

For Abra­ham that may be the best-case sce­nario now: what­ever crit­i­cism of Kane’s Spurs form, he is so po­tent for Eng­land and so in­te­gral to South­gate’s style of play that he starts.

The ques­tion is, were he in­jured, would South­gate pro­mote Abra­ham or use Mar­cus Rash­ford as a striker?

The Chelsea for­ward, who got his first in­ter­na­tional goal as a sub­sti­tute on Thurs­day, should start to give him a chance to press his case while Cal­lum Wil­son ought to be de­moted.

Give Winks a de­fen­sive test

Since Harry Winks was in­stalled as Eng­land’s hold­ing mid­fielder, it could scarcely have gone any bet­ter. They have won 6-0 and 7-0.

The reser­va­tions about the Tot­ten­ham man so far have been whether he pos­sesses the phys­i­cal and de­fen­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties to shield the back four against bet­ter teams.

Also, if Eng­land’s group is no­tably weak, Kosovo at least have the at­tack­ing threat to help de­ter­mine if the 23-year-old is more than just a deep-ly­ing play­maker or if South­gate needs to re­vert to De­clan Rice, who strug­gled in the de­feat to the Czech Repub­lic.

Part­ner search for Maguire

There is lit­tle doubt that South­gate would pre­fer to pair Harry Maguire with John Stones at the heart of the de­fence. Yet the Manch­ester City man strug­gled in the Na­tions League and has had an awk­ward, in­jury-hit sea­son.

Even when be­ing thrashed, Mon­tene­gro opened up Eng­land too eas­ily on oc­ca­sion. South­gate has al­ter­na­tives to Stones: Joe Gomez has had a dif­fi­cult cam­paign with Liver­pool and was rep­re­hen­si­bly booed by some fans af­ter the in­ci­dent with Ra­heem Ster­ling, but is quicker than Stones and a more nat­u­ral de­fender.

Ty­rone Mings im­pressed with his strength of char­ac­ter when racially abused on his de­but in Bul­garia last month.

It will be in­struc­tive who South­gate chooses and, if it is Stones, whether that vote of con­fi­dence spurs him back to his best.

Fly­ing full-backs

It is no co­in­ci­dence the de­feat in Prague came with the de­clin­ing Danny Rose and Kieran Trip­pier, who had been dropped for the sum­mer’s Na­tions League, play­ing.

Full-backs’ at­tack­ing im­por­tance has been il­lus­trated by Liver­pool in the last two years and, on Thurs­day, South­gate had his ver­sion on the flanks.

Trent Alexan­der-Arnold’s mag­nif­i­cent delivery means he should be the first-choice right­back. The for­mer Liver­pool tar­get Ben Chilwell bears com­par­i­son to Andy Robert­son and his ter­rific cross­ing brought three as­sists against Mon­tene­gro. The Le­ices­ter left-back ought to be the reg­u­lar.

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