5 main talking points as England turn their attention to Euro 2020

·4-min read

England’s final Euro 2020 warm-up friendly ended in a narrow 1-0 win against Romania on Sunday.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at five of the talking points after Marcus Rashford’s spot-kick secured victory at the Riverside Stadium.

Ward-Prowse stakes squad claim

James Ward-Prowse was one of the standout players in Middlesbrough
James Ward-Prowse was one of the standout players in Middlesbrough (Lee Smith/PA)

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s thigh injury overshadowed Wednesday’s 1-0 friendly win against Austria, ending his Euro hopes before they had even started. Gareth Southgate pledged to name his replacement after England’s final warm-up friendly against Romania, where James Ward-Prowse – among six omitted players from the Euros selection – impressively staked his claim. A physical presence in the tackle and sharp in possession, his set-piece excellence would add another weapon to Southgate’s armoury. Ward-Prowse was a danger when sending in corners and free-kicks, with Jesse Lingard looking his closest competition to be promoted to the 26.

Henderson returns

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Kalvin Phillips partnered Ward-Prowse in midfield in the first half, with Jordan Henderson replacing the Leeds man at half-time. The 30-year-old had not played for club or country since February 20 after undergoing groin surgery, making his fitness a key pre-tournament question along with that surrounding Harry Maguire. An important figure in Southgate’s squad, the England vice-captain had been due to feature against Austria on Wednesday until complaining of a minor knock that morning. A precautionary scan cleared Henderson to continue and he looked comfortable on his return, playing a few nice passes as he looked to shake off rust that had understandably built. However, the Liverpool captain’s return did overshadowed somewhat by a saved penalty as his wait for a first England goal goes on.

Grealish bright again

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Jack Grealish had been another concern for Southgate until recent weeks. The 25-year-old only returned from a three-month lay-off with a shin injury on May 13, making two substitute appearances and two starts for Aston Villa before linking up with the national team. Grealish impressed over 71 minutes against Austria but Southgate felt there was more to come. The playmaker completed the full 90 minutes against Romania, showing some superb touches and an impressive ability to bounce back up after getting kicked to the deck. Grealish earned the match-winning penalty when racing through into the box and drawing a foul and “Super Jack” was soon ringing around the Riverside.

Moments of note for full debutants

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West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone made his England debut against Romania, with Ben White and Ben Godfrey coming in for their first starts after making their maiden appearances off the bench on Wednesday. The defensive duo did not make the cut for the 26-man squad but showed signs of promise as Romania made life tough for the makeshift side. Brighton centre-back White looked cool in and out of possession, with Godfrey doing well at right-back despite predominantly playing at the heart of Everton’s backline. Johnstone also put in assured display, following some routine stops with an exceptional point-blank stop shortly after England pulled ahead.

Knelling players still opposed

England players took a knee before the friendly and were booed by a portion of fans
England players took a knee before the friendly and were booed by a portion of fans (Lee Smith/PA)

England fans returned to the stands for the first time in 18 months in Wednesday’s clash against Austria and a number of them booed as players took the knee before kick-off. It was drowned out by applause and dominated the narrative ahead of the Romania match, when Southgate pledged the squad will take the knee throughout the tournament after speaking to the squad. England issued a social media plea for fans to support players taking the knee ahead of the match against Romania, but yet again a number of them showed their opposition to the gesture as boos mixed with applause.

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