England's Euro 2024 winners and losers from March friendlies


Winners

Ivan Toney

It was no secret. This was Toney’s big moment, his audition for a place in the England squad at Euro 2024. Gareth Southgate had said as much before the match.

Toney delivered.

By winning a penalty and then coolly scoring from the spot, he demonstrated what an asset he will be in a shoot-out but it will have been his all-round game that impressed Southgate. He helped others play better, linking up excellently with Phil Foden, Jarrod Bowen and Jude Bellingham.

It was an eye-catching performance – and far more emphatic the display of Ollie Watkins, his rival to be Harry Kane’s understudy, during the Aston Villa man’s own opportunity against Brazil.

TONEY CELEBRATES GOAL WITH MAINOO 26 MARCH 24
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Ivan Toney celebrates his goal against Belgium with Kobbie Mainoo – two players who boosted their Euros chances

Kobbie Mainoo

Just a reminder: Southgate didn’t name Kobbie Mainoo in his initial squad for these games. He may be naming him in his starting XI against Serbia in England’s first match of the Euros.

What a talent this 18-year-old is. But it is his composure to play like this on his first international start which makes him special. It’s reminiscent of how Bellingham stepped onto the big stage.

“Kobbie’s attributes are there for everyone to see,” said Gareth Southgate afterwards. “The ability to receive under pressure and ride challenges, to manipulate the ball in tight areas.

“You can’t believe his age really, that he’s taken everything in his stride in as he has.”

Mainoo showed off his all-round game at Wembley, from turning on the ball in the build-up to the penalty to surging into the box himself, tackling tough in midfield to seeing a fierce shot well saved in the second half. If you’re good enough you’re old enough…

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Gareth Southgate says Kobbie Mainoo brings a different style of midfield play to the squad which is needed.

Jarrod Bowen

Bukayo Saka is one of the first names on the team sheet for Southgate these days but his absence gave Bowen the chance to show why he has been such a success at West Ham this season and from the first whistle against Belgium he did just that.

It was an excellent display of driving runs and clever interchanges which deserved to be capped with a goal – and would have been had he not been just offside when he nodded in at a corner.

There’s a fierce battle to make the cut in the wide positions but Bowen will be right in the mix if he’s fit and in this form come the end of the season.

Anthony Gordon

Another player to stake a claim for a spot out wide, Gordon was perhaps England’s standout performer against Brazil, relishing his debut chance and demonstrating his ball carrying quality.

His only regret will have been not finding the net from a couple of decent openings but after shining at last summer’s U21 Euros, the Newcastle man has done himself no harm in his bid to go for the senior crown in Germany this year.

When Southgate was asked why Marcus Rashford was not given a chance late on, he name-checked his desire to have another look at Gordon – a pretty clear sign he’s firmly in the manager’s thoughts.

Joe Gomez

Back on the scene at least. Showed his versatility across the two games and dealt well at right-back with the threat of Belgium’s Jeremy Doku. A useful utility option.

James Maddison

Deft skill for Bellingham’s equaliser against Belgium was a timely demonstration of his potential to be an impact player off the bench this summer.

Losers

Lewis Dunk

Two games, two errors which have led to opposition goals. It’s not been a great international break for Dunk, who has won respect for his performances for Brighton and will surely have sensed an opportunity to challenge Harry Maguire in the left-sided centre-back role.

But Southgate favourite Maguire looks even more secure in his position now and instead it is Dunk who may see himself challenged for a place on the plane to Germany.

Southgate refused to mention Dunk by name when asked about England’s defensive frailties, but it was not hard to read between the lines.

“We’ve had a consistent defence because of the qualities they have,” he said. “We had to test the other guys against high-level opponents.

“These two games now allow them to go away and think about how they’ve played, and we will too. We gave away better-quality chances than we have done for a while.”

Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane are doubts to face Brazil
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Jordan Henderson – like Harry Kane – was unable to feature in either friendly

After the Brazil game, it seemed veteran Henderson’s stock had risen, with the third spot in midfield alongside Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham still uncertain. It seemed that England missed his industry and experience against the South Americans. But injury prevented the Ajax man from backing up that feeling on Tuesday and instead he may have been usurped by the breakout Mainoo. The question is will Southgate stick with the tried and tested or put his faith in youth?

Kalvin Phillips

If that spot is a worry for Henderson, then surely it must have now completely slipped out of Phillips’ reach. The midfielder has had a nightmare start to his loan stint at West Ham, so much so Southgate could not justify picking him in his squad for these games. While the England boss made encouraging comments about Phillips re-finding his form and fitness by the end of the season, Mainoo has surely usurped him with his performance against Belgium.

Jarrad Branthwaite

Branthwaite’s performances for Everton have been rightly praised this season and a first England call up was fully deserved. But despite all the injuries the squad suffered, for the youngster not to get a runout across the two games is surely a signal that the Euros will come too soon for him in terms of convincing Southgate he should be involved.

Ollie Watkins

England's Ollie Watkins missed his big chance of the night
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Ollie Watkins missed his big chance of the night against Brazil

How costly could that first-half miss against Brazil be for Watkins’ Euro hopes? It seems ridiculous that one shot blazed over the bar can be defining for a player who has been so brilliant this term but when Toney put in the display he did against Belgium a few days later, it underlined that chances to impress can be few and far between for strikers at international level and you have to seize them. Watkins did play a part in the build-up to Jude Bellingham’s equaliser on Belgium but he will need to keep producing big numbers for Aston Villa to keep himself right in the mix for a Euros spot.

Jack Grealish

England’s forgotten £100m man. Poor form and injury issues at Man City this season have seen him slip behind Jeremy Doku in Pep Guardiola’s thinking and there may now be too many names in front of him for a spot in one of the hotly-contested wide berths in the England squad. The left side is of course his area but Marcus Rashford, Phil Foden and Gordon have all operated in that role this past week and Grealish has it all to do to get back into the mix.

Sam Johnstone

It’s not official yet, but the rumoured elbow injury may well have ended his hopes of making the squad.

Ben Chilwell

A ‘winner’ in so much as he started both games. A ‘loser’ by stint of two underwhelming performances, although in fairness he was much better against Belgium compared to his error-strewn display on Saturday. But did he do enough to dislodge either Luke Shaw or Kieran Tripper if they are fit? Almost certainly not.

Ben White

Whatever the exact reason for his reluctance, the fact of the matter is that England’s most in-form right-back won’t be going to the Euros this summer. And that’s a shame however you look at it.

Conor Gallagher

Mainoo’s elevation will surely be at Gallagher’s expense in the midfield pecking order. Although he should still be well placed to make the squad.

What’s next for England?

Gareth Southgate is set to name a preliminary England squad for Euro 2024 on Tuesday May 21 – two days after the Premier League season ends.

England then play two more international friendlies against Bosnia and Herzegovina at St James’ Park on June 3 and Iceland at Wembley on June 7 before Southgate’s final 23-player squad has to be confirmed by Sunday June 8.

The tournament starts on Friday June 14 with England’s first game in Germany against Serbia on Saturday June 15.



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