Home Sport CHRIS SUTTON: England do not have a Gascoigne or a Scholes... Southgate...

CHRIS SUTTON: England do not have a Gascoigne or a Scholes… Southgate is working with what he has


England endured a mixed bag of results following their recent international triple-header.

A friendly victory against Wales saw Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Conor Coady net their first international goals before Gareth Southgate’s men beat No 1-ranked Belgium at Wembley.

However, the fixtures ended with a damaging defeat to Denmark which left Southgate with questions to answer, and here Sportsmail‘s Chris Sutton takes a look at some of the issues to have arisen. 

Chris Sutton discusses the latest issues surrounding Gareth Southgate's England squad

Chris Sutton discusses the latest issues surrounding Gareth Southgate’s England squad

Three or four at the back?

Gareth Southgate wants to stick with the three, so let’s support that decision.

Wednesday’s defeat by Denmark — via a penalty which was never a penalty — was not as bad as some people are saying. England were the better team at Wembley until Harry Maguire’s red card.

That was the story of the game. We didn’t lose because of Southgate’s system. Let’s not forget the same set-up beat Belgium, the No 1 team in the world, earlier in the week!

I’ve been struck by the negative reaction to this loss. Maguire had a couple of mad moments and that cost England.

So let’s not declare this some sort of identity crisis under Southgate. His 3-4-3 can work.

England were the better team at Wembley against Denmark until Harry Maguire's red card

England were the better team at Wembley against Denmark until Harry Maguire’s red card

If three, what should happen in midfield? 

England don’t have a player with the range of passing of Paul Scholes. They don’t have a Paul Gascoigne, even if Jack Grealish is being touted as the next Gazza.

Southgate is working with what he has, and Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice looks like his best combination in midfield.

Harry Winks started against Wales but wasn’t in the squads against Belgium and Denmark.

Kalvin Phillips hasn’t done himself any harm in this international break — I’m sure Southgate will continue to study how he works as a single pivot in front of Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds defence.

But right now, it’s looking like a Henderson-Rice midfield for England at Euro 2020 next summer. Maybe that doesn’t provide a great deal of creativity, but Southgate wants his team to be compact.

Jordan Henderson featured for England against Belgium

Declan Rice also played for England in the defeat to Denmark

Jordan Henderson (left) and Declan Rice (right) looks like England’s best midfield combination

Time to ditch Pickford?

England need to pick the best goalkeeper available to them and, right now, that is Nick Pope. Jordan Pickford does not fill me with confidence.

We’ve seen him flapping in goal at club level for Everton, including against Brighton before this break. Liverpool’s forwards will be wanting to test him in tomorrow’s Merseyside derby, too. 

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson love to cross the ball, so let’s see how Pickford fares with his catching at Goodison Park.

Pope was very assured against Wales. Give him another go, Gareth!

Jordan Pickford does not fill me with confidence so Nick Pope (centre) should start in goal

Jordan Pickford does not fill me with confidence so Nick Pope (centre) should start in goal

Should Grealish be starting?

Raheem Sterling on the left, Harry Kane in the middle and Marcus Rashford on the right. That is England’s best front three. ITV pundit Roy Keane suggested on Wednesday night that Grealish is being made out to be the Messiah and he isn’t wrong about that.

The more Grealish is out of the team, the more his reputation is growing! But the bottom line is, if everybody is fit, the Aston Villa captain doesn’t get in England’s front three.

Maybe the sight of Jadon Sancho coming on against Denmark was like a slap in the face to Grealish. Dominic Calvert-Lewin on the left seemed strange, too.

But Grealish will just have to keep trying to impress Southgate when in a Villa shirt. The 25-year-old seems to have nailed down his spot in the squad. That’s a good start.

Aston Villa star Jack Grealish does not get in England's front three if everyone is available

Aston Villa star Jack Grealish does not get in England’s front three if everyone is available

One reason to be cheerful ahead of Euro 2020… And one reason to be fearful

Cheerful: The headline from this international break should be the fact England beat the world’s best-ranked team using Southgate’s preferred system.

It isn’t always pretty — I know we’d all like to see expansive, free-flowing football from the national team — but it worked.

If England win Euro 2020 playing that way, I won’t be complaining!

Fearful: There are too many unanswered questions surrounding England’s back line.

What does Southgate do with Maguire now? Should Conor Coady be starting? Is Joe Gomez out of the picture? Is Eric Dier even a defender?

Wouldn’t Tyrone Mings, as a left-footer, be a natural fit on the left side of the three?

I know I’d have Alexander-Arnold starting as my right wing back and Ben Chilwell on the left, even if they are used as full backs by their club managers.

So Southgate has some problem-solving to do, with England’s next meeting with Belgium less than a month away.

I would play Alexander-Arnold as a right wing-back even though he is a full back at Liverpool

I would play Alexander-Arnold as a right wing-back even though he is a full back at Liverpool

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