England winners and losers: Jack Grealish and Jude Bellingham excel in Euro 2020 warm-ups

·4-min read
England winners and losers: Jack Grealish and Jude Bellingham excel in Euro 2020 warm-ups
 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

England’s preparations for Euro 2020 have been more disrupted than any other nation’s but they go into the tournament on the back of 1-0 wins over Austria and Romania at the Riverside Stadium.

Gareth Southgate was without all seven of his Champions League finalists for both matches and Manchester United trio Dean Henderson, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford only reported in time for Sunday’s narrow win over Romania, sealed by the latter’s second-half penalty.

The absence of so many players means it was difficult to glean a great deal from the fixtures but a number of players still made cases for inclusion in the opening group game against Croatia at Wembley next Sunday, while some others had frustrating run-outs.

Standard Sport assess England’s winners and losers from this week…

Winners

Jack Grealish

No-one did more in the two games to enhance their claims to start against Croatia than Grealish. The Aston Villa playmaker was England’s standout player against Austria and again on Sunday, when he won the winning penalty. His canny ability to win fouls could be a major weapon for a side who were so reliant on set-pieces in 2018, while a three-month absence from February means he should be fresher than most.

 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

James Ward-Prowse

The Southampton midfielder strengthened his case to replace the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold with an assured display against Romania. Ward-Prowse set up the two of the game’s best openings with superb free-kicks for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and his set-pieces – described by Southgate as the best in the Premier League – are as good a reason as any to include him as the 26th man.

Jude Bellingham

There is set to be a midfield vacancy until Jordan Henderson returns to match-fitness and Bellingham may have played his way into the XI. He was a picture of calm assurance against Austria but showed another side of his game on Sunday, driving England forward from the bench and nearly scoring with a back-post header shortly after a great cross for Calvert-Lewin. Despite being just 17, Bellingham would add a touch of class to England’s midfield, where he faces competition from Kalvin Phillips and perhaps one of Grealish or Phil Foden.

Bukayo Saka

Absent against Romania with a hip problem, Saka had already made his case with a lively performance against Austria. The Arsenal rising star scored the winning goal and showed enough to suggest he could be a game-changer for England at the finals, particularly with Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford struggling to hit top form.

Losers

Trent Alexander-Arnold

After all the debate over his inclusion, a thigh injury against Austria ended the right-back’s European Championship. At 22, there will be further caps and tournaments for Alexander-Arnold but it was nonetheless a cruel blow after he had worked so hard to return to the squad following his omission in March. And if Reece James, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier impress this summer, the Liverpool man could find himself back at the bottom of the England’s right-back pecking order next season.

Tyrone Mings

Mings and his Villa teammate Grealish were the only players to start both matches at the Riverside Stadium but the centre-half was not convincing. He got away with an off-the-ball body-check against Austria – surely a penalty with VAR – and was guilty of lapses as Romania enjoyed a number of chances. In the likely absence of Harry Maguire, Mings is the obvious choice as the left-sided centre-back but his shaky displays may have convinced Southgate to go with Conor Coady, a back three or even Ben White.

Jordan Henderson

A first appearance since February for the second half against Romania was an encouraging step in the Liverpool captain’s recovery but the fact remains he is behind schedule, with Southgate having initially targeted minutes for him in both warm-up games. Having played so little football, it is hard to imagine Henderson starting against Croatia and it remains to seen how much of a part in the tournament he will be able to play. A missed penalty against Romania was a blow and leaves him without a goal for England.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Phil Foden

None of the Manchester City or Chelsea players featured in Middlesbrough and you wonder if Foden could pay the heaviest price for their absences. Grealish’s superb displays have arguably given the Villa man the edge for the creative playmaker role in the side, assuming Southgate goes with at least one direct runner in his front three. If Grealish keeps up this form, he may prove a difficult man to displace in the side.

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