GARETH SOUTHGATE was encouraged by a fine all-round display as England made light of their injury worries against world champions Germany.
A spate of withdrawals looked to have taken the edge of Friday’s encounter, yet an experimental and inexperienced side made the most of their opportunity to shine in a spirited 0-0 draw.
Wembley witnessed England’s most entertaining performance in months as Southgate handed five players their senior bow, including man-of-the-match Ruben Loftus-Cheek and outstanding goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
“It was an interesting game,” Southgate said. “Their system caused us some problems with (Mesut) Ozil and (Leroy) Sane dropping deeper, and our system caused them problems with our number eights.
“It was a bit end-to-end, but I thought we showed real composure with the ball throughout the team.
“Second half, we were tactically a bit better without the ball and didn’t concede so many chances. Maybe they had another level to go to, but I think everyone knows what we are missing as well.
I’m really not surprised with what they’ve done because they’ve shown that previously in the younger ages, they’ve shown that this week in training. There’s been an energy about the group.England manager Gareth Southgate
“And then I think individually some really top debuts and some really encouraging performances.”
Tammy Abraham, Joe Gomez and Jack Cork joined Pickford and Loftus-Cheek in making their debuts, with the latter particularly impressive against the World Cup holders.
“Well, he’s a player I’ve watched do that from Under-16 level,” Southgate said of the Chelsea midfielder, currently on loan at Crystal Palace.
“Despite his size, appearance and the way he plays, he’s not hugely confident at times and I think tonight it took him 10 minutes to have a look around him and think ‘all right, OK, I can do this’.
“He’s got so many good attributes, top attributes, and that’s why we put him into the team.
“I don’t think the wider public may be as aware of him - you would have to follow very closely - but we believe in him and believe in the others we played.
“I’m really not surprised with what they’ve done because they’ve shown that previously in the younger ages, they’ve shown that this week in training. There’s been an energy about the group.
“So it seemed as if there had been loads of pull outs and it’s a bit messy, but actually it’s been really tight and I think the performance - without getting too carried away - was a really encouraging one.”
More young talent is set to join the squad ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Brazil.
Angus Gunn, on loan at Norwich from Manchester City, will join up with the seniors and Southgate will decide what other England Under-21 members will follow, plus whether Phil Jones should be risked after limping off in the first half.
“We’ll see whether Phil stays with us, but definitely Angus following the injury to Jack (Butland),” he said. “Then we’ll have a look and just assess what is required.
“But I think it would be a good experience for a couple of the Under-21s to come with us anyway, to have a couple of days with the seniors.
“They don’t have a game and for them to be involved with a game against Brazil will be a brilliant experience for them.
“I think it’s a bit of a no-brainer.
“I’ll find out who played well tonight (for the Under-21s), who warrants the decision, and liaise with Aidy (Boothroyd) on that and go from there.”