MARTIN KEOWN: Southgate is still looking for answers in his defence

MARTIN KEOWN: England boss Gareth Southgate is still looking for answers in his defence

  • England beat Kosovo away from home in their final qualifier for Euro 2020 
  • Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks gave visitors first-half lead with a smart finish
  • Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount completed win in second half

Gareth Southgate has decisions to make and areas to develop in his defence and midfield ahead of Euro 2020, but not in attack. 

That front three of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford is as good as any in Europe. Kane is a predator, and Sterling and Rashford are speed kings. 

Yet Southgate will have left Kosovo asking himself questions. Who starts at the back alongside Harry Maguire? I’d go with Joe Gomez. Southgate likes to pick players who play regularly for their clubs. Gomez has not been starting as much as he would like for Liverpool, but I’d break that rule for him. 

England manager Gareth Southgate will still be asking himself questions about his defence

Tyrone Mings, who has come a long way in a short space of time, encountered a couple of tricky moments on Sunday night. He sat very deep and did not always deal with Kosovo’s balls into the box. 

John Stones seems devoid of confidence, too. So that is an area for Southgate to look at. At least his full backs pick themselves. The attack-minded Trent Alexander-Arnold does not always act as a right back, but that is because he is one of the best going forward. 

In a one against one, Ben Chilwell is very tidy. He goes forward with good quality and, more often than not, provides that end product. 

Elsewhere, Southgate has to look at deep midfield. Who gets that job? Who can receive the ball off the defence on the turn and play it forward? Declan Rice, given the nod on Sunday, is a centre half being asked to act as a pivot. Sometimes he plays it too safe and I’d like to see him encouraged to be more creative.

England’s players will now go away knowing there are positions up for grabs, and Southgate will be watching them closely at their clubs.

Tyrone Mings attempts to challenge Kosovo’s Atdhe Nuhiu during Sunday’s encounter


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