Southgate ‘still spinning plates’ – but who impressed against Bosnia?

  • 3 June 2024

England manager Gareth Southgate said he is “spinning a lot of plates” as the deadline to finalise his squad for Euro 2024 nears.

England play Iceland at Wembley on Friday (19:45 BST) in their final friendly before the tournament, after which Southgate will confirm the 26-man group he will take to Germany.

Speaking about his upcoming selection after Monday’s 3-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina , he said: “We understand the significance for all of the players so we’re giving it the respect and attention it deserves to make fair, right decisions.

“Of course, it’s always going to be subjective.

“It’s not just getting the best individuals in, there’s a positional element to that as well.

“We’ve got really good options and I think we’ve come through tonight without any physical issues, which is really important.”

The England boss continued: “Some players needed the game, they needed the minutes and they need the minutes again on Friday. That’s why we brought Harry Kane on. He needed some match time today and then to back that up.

“We’re spinning a lot of plates trying to get individuals into things, manage minutes, perform well and everything else, but I think it was a good night for us.”

At Euro 2024, England are in Group C with Denmark, Slovenia and Serbia – their first opponents in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday, 16 June.

‘Unique’ Eze shines as Palmer scores first England goal

Chelsea’s Cole Palmer marked his full England debut with his first international goal in the 3-0 win at St James’ Park.

He and Crystal Palace’s Eberechi Eze started as part of an inexperienced Three Lions line-up before being withdrawn after an hour.

“Cole linked the game well for us,” Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I thought he tried to be a little too precise a couple of times on finishes that, if he’d taken a little bit earlier, he might have got his shot away. But it was lovely for him to get his first goal.

“Eze played with that freedom and swagger that he plays for his club with. It’s great to see a young player come into our environment and be able to do that.

“You saw that ability to glide past people in the middle of the pitch and the power he has as well.”

Meanwhile, Adam Wharton made a promising debut from the bench and Southgate said of the Palace midfielder: “He played as he’s trained. He receives well, he’s very composed and he plays forward, which sounds simple but is not a simple thing to do.

“He plays a lot of one-touch football and can see a picture when the ball arrives with him. He’s had a really good few days with us.”

Ex-Everton midfielder Leon Osman, working as a pundit on BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “That is why they [Eze and Wharton] have got into the squad, because of what they have done for their club.

“Eze is unique. He can glide with the ball and he can beat four players at a time. There are not many players that can do that, they are the types of players you need to unlock the door.

“Wharton played with such confidence in a vital area of the pitch.”

‘We know the qualities Grealish has’

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Another England player to impress in a cameo from the bench was Manchester City winger Jack Grealish, who set up Trent Alexander-Arnold’s second goal with a floated cross and also had a hand in the third scored by Kane from close range.

Grealish played a reduced role for Premier League champions City in 2023-24, starting only 10 league games, while he was an unused substitute in their FA Cup final loss to neighbours Manchester United on 25 May.

Competition for attacking places in England’s squad is extremely fierce, but Southgate said after Monday’s win: “We know the qualities he has. That’s not in any question – he’s a player we love having with the group.”

Several contributors to BBC Sport’s live text coverage suggested the 28-year-old should be named in England’s Euro 2024 squad, including:

Stuart Beal-Collins: What a pass by Grealish, that was sensational and we take him for granted. Has to be on the plane.

AC Tcg: Jack Grealish gets in the squad all day long.

Steve: Top cameo from Jack Grealish, oozing quality. Would be madness to leave him out of the Euro squad.

Did anyone force their way into your XI?

While a few players caught the eye in Newcastle, did anyone do enough to sneak into Southgate’s starting XI for England’s Euro 2024 opener against Serbia?

“It could be down to the Iceland game [for the final team selection],” said former England centre-back Jonathan Woodgate.

“Gareth has an incredibly tough decision on who he takes, they are all outstanding players.

“Our squad depth is the best I have ever seen it.”

Who do you think should start for the Three Lions? Pick your team below.

England XI for Euro 2024

Select your England XI for their Euro 2024 opener

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