Former England stars Chris Waddle and Darren Bent have questioned Gareth Southgate’s team selection after a tedious goalless draw against Denmark on Tuesday night in Copenhagen.
Southgate fielded an ultra-defensive team, with three central defenders (Joe Gomez, Conor Coady and Eric Dier) and two defensive midfielders (Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips) in front of them.
With Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood sent home after breaking coronavirus restrictions, many thought it a perfect opportunity for Jack Grealish to make his England debut, which he did, but only coming on in the 76th minute.
Waddle feels this was a missed opportunity to test out the Aston Villa captain at international level after Grealish also sat on the bench for the entirety of the 1-0 win over Iceland on Saturday.
‘These were two good games to have a look at Jack Grealish,’ Waddle told BBC 5Live. ‘If Grealish had started both games, would he have been a weakness in the team? No he wouldn’t.
‘So where would you play him? Jadon Sancho is not doing it for me – he’s doing it for Dortmund, not for England. So you think “I’ll play Grealish in these games and if he’s not playing well, bring Sancho on”.
‘You know what Sancho can do. If Grealish plays badly you say “maybe he’s not an England player”. But let’s see if he could do it and this was the perfect opportunity.
‘You can’t give him 15 minutes and say ‘see what happens’ – he might never get another game.’
Sancho did not make much impact against Iceland or Denmark, despite starting both matches in a front three alongside Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.
Bent, who won 13 caps for England, feels Danny Ings was unlucky not to get more of a chance in that front three with the Southampton man left on the bench for the Denmark match and only coming on late against Iceland.
Ings scored 25 goals last season and Bent feels that the lack of opportunity for strikers, other than Kane, proves why Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy retired early from international football.
‘For me it was a good exercise to look at a different system.
‘I know exactly what the reaction would be, but I’m very pleased with the performances of the players, there were a lot of pluses.
‘I thought the back three were very solid and against a top team it’s an option we might need.
‘Super debut by Conor Coady, he organised, he used the ball well and our final third play, as we get another month down the line, will be sharper.’
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