THE idea was for a couple of Gareth Southgate’s World Cup wannabes to play their way into the squad.
But in those four games in 11 days, most of them played their way out of the reckoning.
What absolute junk. Few of that squad, whether high-flying stars or fringe players, can really be pleased with their performances in this lethargic and uninspiring series of Nations League games.
Some of them will be downright ashamed. One or the other may never return to play for their country.
England were hopeless in the 1-0 defeat by Hungary, Jack Grealish delivered a fine performance in the 1-1 draw with Germany and Declan Rice showed a solid performance in the home game against Italy.
But against Hungary, in another desperately poor performance, boss Southgate’s Stars flopped again.
For all these players, the beach couldn’t come soon enough.
And they were perhaps lucky that the crowd’s anger was taken out on the coach as much as it was on the team.
Here was a big chance for Jarrod Bowen to take his great form with West Ham to the international stage. He played in all four games and started two, but the fact that he was replaced by Raheem Sterling at half-time last night said it all.
Bowen had plenty of energy and enthusiasm throughout his 180 total minutes on the pitch. However, despite some encouraging flashes, he failed to really get the point for Southgate.
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The only real winners from his performances were Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, both of whom will believe they can force their way back into the squad.
With Bowen not exactly blowing them out of the water, the door is still open if they get off to a good start at Manchester United under new boss Erik ten Hag.
Conor Gallagher got his fourth cap and a second start.
Despite a really good start, winning some decent tackles and carrying the ball forward well enough, he didn’t really do enough and was replaced by Mason Mount in the 56th minute.
After such a good season on loan at Crystal Palace, Gallagher will fly to the United States for pre-season with Chelsea on July 8.
If he impresses Thomas Tuchel he could stay at Stamford Bridge all season.
The problem will be that cameo appearances from the bench won’t be enough to keep him in the England squad.
So if Gallagher is to remain in Qatar with a reputation, he must either be loaned back to Palace – or move to a place like Everton with Frank Lampard.
Marc Guehi did well even if his first touch wasn’t great.
Southgate is a clear supporter but you’d still have the currently injured Ben White ahead of you in the pecking order.
James Ward-Prowse is a player Southgate absolutely loves but he didn’t do enough in his 90 minutes against Italy.
Jordan Henderson was able to skip those four games – fortunately – and will definitely return to the squad for the last two Nations League games against Italy and Germany in September.
The smart money would elude Ward-Prowse despite his great free-kick stats.
And we’re unlikely to see James Justin again. With England struggling at left-back, the versatile Leicester full-back made his debut – only to have to struggle against Hungary despite an injury.
Against Italy, Tammy Abraham, who scored 27 goals for Roma last season, was given a chance to cement his place as Harry Kane’s deputy in attack.
He failed to impress either and it was telling that Southgate decided against giving him a second chance against Hungary.
Fikayo Tomori earned his third cap against Italy and looked pretty decent after a shady start and is now ahead of Tyrone Mings.
But despite being dropped from the squad, Mings will have sat at home and watched this embarrassment – and likely be glad he wasn’t around.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/football/premier-league/5563131/england-southgate-bowen-gallagher-tomori-abraham/ Backups fail in a shambolic run as Jarrod Bowen and co play their way out of the World Championship calculation