Gareth Southgate will be reconsidering his defensive options after England conceded three goals against Kosovo. Luckily, the rampant attack bailed out the defenders by scoring five but it was still a tough evening for England.
Harry Maguire, the world’s most expensive defender at £80m (BBC Sport), was one of the players who struggled. Meanwhile, Joe Gomez sat on the bench. Tuesday evening’s on-field events could tempt Southgate to switch them around.
Maguire and Keane struggle
Both of England’s centre-backs had evenings to forget against Kosovo. Less than one minute in, Everton’s Michael Keane had a pass intercepted and Valon Berisha scored. Keane was then caught with a ball over the top for Berisha’s second. And Maguire was clumsy for the third.
The Manchester United defender came crashing in with a slide tackle on Verdat Muriqi and committed a needless foul. Muriqi dusted himself down and scored the penalty – meaning all three of Kosovo’s goals were avoidable.
Gomez needs more games
Gomez and Tyrone Mings were both waiting in line for an opportunity. But Southgate might have been sceptical about including Gomez at centre-half because of a lack of game time.
The 22-year-old has only played one Premier League match this season with Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip keeping him out of the team. If he had played all of Liverpool’s games, would he have got the nod over Keane?
Maguire and Gomez partnership?
If Southgate does change things at the back, it is Keane who will probably make way. If John Stones is not back by then, Gomez will be the natural replacement for Keane. This could push him into a partnership with Maguire.
England cannot afford any slip-ups like they had on Tuesday night when they play the better teams. Gomez will be determined to show why he should be in the starting line-up – regardless of who his partner is.