England How Marcus Rashford’s roller-coaster evening helped England see off Slovakia Published 5 months ago on September 5, 2017 By William Pearson Share Tweet England manager Gareth Southgate said before the Slovakia match that he wanted his team to ‘excite’ the fans at Wembley after a stereotypically dull and uninspiring win over Malta on Friday. On that occasion three goals inside the last ten minutes flattered England’s display, one which was severely lacking in inspiration and a sense of urgency, and it was clear changes needed to be made. So, for the visit of Slovakia on Monday – England’s closest challengers at the top of Group F – the ineffective Raheem Sterling made way for Marcus Rashford, the undeniable bright spark from the Malta win. Speaking pre-match to BBC Sport about Rashford, the England boss had said: “He is a talent with high potential and we really like his mentality. He has been playing very well for Manchester United this season and we wouldn’t hesitate to start him. “Starting him was a possibility in Malta but he missed some of the training, not only with us but the week before with his club. We have been looking after him a bit.” After the 19-year-old’s excellent second-half impact from the bench during the victory over minnows Malta on Friday Rashford was deservedly awarded a place in the starting eleven last night, although things didn’t get off to the best start when he made a costly error with just three minutes on the clock. Receiving the ball just outside of his own penalty area he turned and shrugged off one opponent before being pushed off the ball too easily, losing possession in a move that ended in Slovakia’s shock opener. The 19-year-old has taken a lot of plaudits for his performances in an England shirt to date but, on this occasion, he tried one take-on too many in a dangerous position and he needs to recognise that. However, this early set-back only presented the perfect test of Rashford’s metal as a young and developing footballer and to his credit he didn’t let the error get to him, responding in the right way. He was immediately on a charge up the other end of the pitch, shooting straight at the Slovakian goalkeeper, and for the rest of the first-half his endeavour and desire to make amends was evident. This burning desire to make amends for his error paid dividends as England eventually turned the game around, with Rashford’s corner finding Eric Dier before his own moment of individual brilliance. Picking the ball up on the edge of the Slovakian penalty area he produced a superb swerving shot right into the far corner, putting his side ahead and well and truly signifying Rashford’s redemption. This shows an awful lot about the character that Rashford has built up over his short career at Old Trafford to date – a character already briefly seen this season following his rough reception away at Swansea City – and, in the long run, he is only going to learn from any mistakes that he does make. Alongside his telling moments of impact he put in another lively shift, scaring the Slovakian defenders with his raw pace and acceleration, whilst he also showcased an excellent sense of ball control in tight situations that has suddenly become such an asset for England, able to push the ball past players. His link-up play with Tottenham’s Dele Alli in-and-around the penalty area would have pleased boss Gareth Southgate too, with some intricate passing exchanges opening up space in key areas on goal. It wasn’t quite a virtuoso solo display that will set the world alight but, slowly and surely, Rashford is starting to become as indispensable for England as he has been domestically for Manchester United. Related Topics:Marcus Rashford Up Next Is Stoke’s Jack Butland the next in-line for England after another Joe Hart horror show? William Pearson Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @willypearson. Continue Reading You may like Jose Mourinho must look to the future as Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Manchester United career is over Who are the five most valuable players under the age of 21? Three talking points from Manchester United’s Champions League victory over Benfica Three talking points from England’s World Cup qualifying win in Lithuania Analysing Marcus Rashford’s scintillating display for Manchester United in the Carabao Cup How Marcus Rashford’s super sub display saved the day for Manchester United against Leicester England Three talking points as England earned a credible draw against Germany Published 2 months ago on November 11, 2017 By Jake Jackman England ramped up their World Cup preparations with a friendly match against long-time rivals Germany at Wembley Stadium. Despite a number of drop-outs earlier this week, the Three Lions managed to deliver a confident performance and the match finished goalless. It wasn’t a bore 0-0, as both teams had chances to score, but a draw was probably a fair result. Gareth Southgate will have learned a lot about his players on Friday evening, especially those making their debuts. Here are three talking points from the match: Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a contender to make the World Cup squad It was a pleasant surprise last week when Gareth Southgate named his squad for the upcoming friendlies, as he dropped players that hadn’t performed for England and replaced them with young, hungry players with potential. Ruben Loftus-Cheek wouldn’t have expected to be in the running for an England call-up at this stage of his career. He has had a promising start to a loan spell at Crystal Palace, but this was an early call-up. Southgate knows the midfielder from his time as Under-21 manager and his decision to call up Loftus-Cheek looks a great one. The 21-year-old was positive in possession and played several forward passes that created good openings for the home side. Although none of them led to goals, the midfielder did cause problems for the world champions and looked at home at this level. He will need to show consistency and deliver at club level to remain in the manager’s thoughts, but this was a great start to life as an international player. Leroy Sane is one of the best young players in the world The Manchester City winger has been wowing the English public since moving to join Pep Guardiola’s side last summer. There are some that think he is helped by the players he is surrounded by at the Etihad Stadium and that might be true, but he is a great player in his own right and he showed that on Friday. Germany threatened a lot in the first half and their best player was Leroy Sane. The quick-footed winger hit the bar in the first half with a great strike from distance, while he also saw an effort cleared off the line by Phil Jones. Defenders know what he is going to do when he gets the ball, but it is almost impossible to stop. Sane continues to develop on a weekly basis at Manchester City and this performance showed that he is going to be just as important for his country this summer. Jordan Pickford staked his claim to be number one The England goalkeeper’s position has been widely debated since Euro 2016, as Joe Hart has been on a downwards curve. He was initially dropped by Manchester City and has since been sent on two loan spells. The 30-year-old has failed to look as dominant as he once did at either Torino or West Ham United and that has opened up a possibility of England changing their goalkeeper ahead of the World Cup. Jack Butland is many people’s favourite to take the jersey, but Jordan Pickford was selected on Friday and he gave a very good showing of himself. The Everton goalkeeper made three or four great stops to keep his clean sheet and looked at home on the international stage. He took the step up in his stride and that is an encouraging sign for the future. It may come too soon for him to be the number one in Russia, but this display puts him firmly in contention. Continue Reading Chelsea Five players to watch from the England Under-17 World Cup squad Published 3 months ago on October 25, 2017 By Jake Jackman England Under-17s delivered a dominant performance to beat Brazil to reach the Under-17 World Cup final on Wednesday. The team excited the nation as they were confident on the pitch, attacking the Brazilians with pace and purpose down the flanks. It wasn’t a display that was typical of English teams and offered hope that a brighter future is ahead for the Three Lions. The concern will be that the league structure in this country isn’t the best for nurturing talent, but there is no doubt that the talent is there. The age groups from Under-17s to Under-21s have all fared well in major competitions in 2017. The Under-20 team won the World Cup and this Under-17 side will be hoping to replicate that success on Saturday. Here are five players to keep an eye on from the squad: Steven Sessegnon The Fulham full-back is one of the best talents to come through at Craven Cottage in recent times alongside his brother Ryan, who is already a first-team regular. Steven made his first-team debut earlier this season and has been described as the future of club by his manager Slavisa Jokanovic. Like his brother, he has a lot of pace and is reliable in possession, capable of carrying the ball for long distances. Against Brazil, he was regularly trying to get forward to support attacks and offered a threat. Tottenham and Everton have both been linked with him, but he is currently at the right club to progress his career. Tashan Oakley-Boothe The central midfielder is at the perfect club to make his first strides into senior football. Tottenham have become the place to be for young English talent and Oakley-Boothe has been on the fringes of the first team under Mauricio Pochettino. He made his first-team bow against Barnsley earlier this season and has been on the bench for a Premier League fixture. The teenager is confident on the ball and good at winning back possession, as has been evident throughout the competition. More opportunities could be on the horizon when he returns to Spurs as his manager is already a big fan. Soccer Football – Brazil vs England – FIFA U-17 World Cup Semi-Final – Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium, Kolkata, India – October 25, 2017. England’s team celebrates their win. REUTERS/Anuwar Hazarika George McEachran His older brother, Josh, was billed as the best player to graduate from the Chelsea academy, but he failed to make an impact in the first-team. The Blues have similarly high hopes for George and he will be itching to go one step further than his older sibling. He is a similar player, as he is comfortable in possession, but he is more offensive and can be used further forward or on the wings. The midfielder has scored crucial goals for the youth teams at Stamford Bridge and his performances at the Under-17 World Cup enhance his reputation. It could be a while before he plays for the first-team, but he is likely to be seen out on loan in the not too distant future. Phil Foden The player on this list with the best chance of making first-team progress this season is Phil Foden and he was the standout player against Brazil. Pep Guardiola is a known fan and has brought him up to the fringes of the first-team squad at Manchester City. The midfielder is comfortable with the ball in tight spaces and distributes it intelligently for a player of his age. Coaches at the club have been excited about him since he joined as a child and a first-team debut is surely just around the corner. Soccer Football – Brazil vs England – FIFA U-17 World Cup Semi-Final – Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium, Kolkata, India – October 25, 2017. England’s Rhian Brewster celebrates his goal. REUTERS/Anuwar Hazarika Rhian Brewster – Liverpool It will be the young striker that takes the headlines tomorrow and deservedly so. He scored a hat-trick for the second successive round and is currently on course to finish as the tournament’s top scorer. Brewster is a confident and accomplished finisher as he has shown during the last two matches, while his free-kick against Mexico in an earlier round was superb. His movement and technique on the ball mean that he is difficult to defend against. There will be several Liverpool fans that will be hoping he gets a chance at some point during this season. Continue Reading England Harry Winks’ journey from Tottenham academy to England squad Published 4 months ago on October 4, 2017 By Jake Jackman Harry Winks has been on an upwards trajectory during the last two seasons and has earned a place in the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia and Lithuania. The 21-year-old was called up to the squad after Phil Jones and Fabian Delph were ruled out with injuries. This provides a huge opportunity to the young midfielder as the World Cup is less than a year away and a good showing over the next week could propel him into Gareth Southgate’s thinking for next summer. The Tottenham player has made seven appearances for the team this season and has grown used to representing his country throughout his career playing youth football. He was capped by England at under-17, under-18, under-19, under-20 and under-21 levels, which underlines how highly he has been thought of within the national set-up since he broke through at youth level. There are some that believe that this call-up comes too soon, as he has only started four Premier League matches since breaking through at Tottenham. The critics believe that his call-up is premature and that he hasn’t done enough to earn a place in the England set-up yet. However, it is more difficult to break through at a top-six club and Winks has looked impressive every time he has been given an opportunity. If Gareth Southgate sees the 21-year-old as a future England player, there is an advantage of getting him in a squad early to take a look at him and see how he fits in. These next two games are ones the Three Lions should win and it is as perfect a time as any to give experience to young players coming through. Winks has passion for his country as shown by comments earlier this year that committed him to England rather than Spain, a country he qualified for through his grandparents. “Obviously I have goals and ambitions that I’d love to achieve this year. Of course, I’d love to play for England this year, but that’s not something I’m saying I’m going to set myself to do. I’m just going to take it step by step in getting into the team.” This shows good ambition and it is encouraging that he wants to play for England, as a few players in the past haven’t shown commitment to the national team. Although his lack of experience is a problem for some, team-mate Harry Kane is clearly a fan and spoke up the midfielder’s England chances before the call-up was announced: “He’s waited patiently for his chance. He’s just got to keep doing what he’s doing, keeping his head down. [Winks is] a great player. On the ball, technically he’s fantastic. He reads the game very well, he can drive past players.” It is more important for a newly called-up player to have the respect of the dressing room than the nation and these comments show that he is highly thought of within the game. There are a lot of Tottenham players in the England squad and that will help him adapt to the international game. Kane’s comments allude to Winks’ technical ability and that is something lacking in the current squad. It could be that Southgate has included the 21-year-old for this purpose. His career to date The Tottenham academy has been successful in recent seasons, as Danny Rose and Harry Kane are two players to graduate to the first-team. Harry Winks followed their path and looks set to make a real impression at the top of the English game. He has been around the first-team in training since the 2013-14 season and signed his first professional deal during the following summer. Winks made his debut towards the end of 2014 in a Europa League game against FK Partizan, but it wasn’t until last season that he broke through as a regular member of the first-team squad. In August of last year, he made his Premier League debut and started for the first time in November. During his first start, he scored against West Ham to bring Tottenham back on level terms and repaid the faith that Mauricio Pochettino showed in him. For the rest of the campaign, he was a regular from the subs bench and showed a level of consistency in his performances that suggested he belonged at the highest level. Pochettino has a great record of bringing young players through to senior football and Winks is benefitting from that. Earlier this year, he signed a new five-year contract, which showed the belief that Tottenham have in him. “I’ve been playing for Tottenham since I was six, but I feel like I’m gradually getting a more important role,” It was a long journey for Winks to break through as a first-team player, but last season will be looked back on as the season that he emerged. A total of 21 Premier League and four Champions League appearances provided good experience to the midfielder and his performances underlined the potential that he possesses. The 21-year-old’s career to date is made even more impressive by the fact he hasn’t been out on loan once. His development has been completed solely at Tottenham and that should offer encouragement to supporters. The academy is achieving real success at bringing players through with the right coaching without relying on clubs in the Football League to give them experience in senior football. This means that the players will be moulded into the club’s image, rather than picking up habits from elsewhere. Winks’ success in the first team shows the benefits that can bring. What is next for Winks? His primary focus over the coming week will be to impress Southgate and the rest of the England staff in training with the hope of making his debut during this international break. Even if he doesn’t make it onto the field, he will have the opportunity to prove his quality to the coaching staff, which would increase the likelihood of further international call-ups this season. At club level, he has impressed during his run of appearances this season and at the age of 21, he will be pushing for a regular place in the first-team. The success that Harry Kane has had proves that Mauricio Pochettino is open to giving responsibility to young players. The Spurs manager is a huge fan of Winks, as shown by the following quotes reported by the Evening Standard: “For me, he is the perfect midfielder, who can play box-to-box and as a holding midfielder,” The speed at which Winks has made his mark on senior football has given him no time to reflect on his success, but this England call-up will give him a taste of international football. If he continues to develop at Tottenham, there is no reason why he can’t become a regular for both club and country. 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