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Phil Foden at risk of being benched for Euro 2024 with Anthony Gordon England’s only positive – what we learned from defeat to Iceland

LB comp iceland foden

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Gareth Southgate may have been left with more questions than answers after wrapping up England’s last warm-up match before Euro 2024.

The Three Lions welcomed Iceland to Wembley on Friday night, but despite hoping for a confidence-boosting victory, they struggled in a 1-0 defeat.

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Gareth Southgate has some big decisions to make ahead of the EurosCredit: Getty

While Jude Bellingham missed out as a result of his Champions League win with Real Madrid and Bukayo Saka only fit enough for a spot on the bench, Southgate named arguably his strongest side.

So what did we learn about England as they prepare to fly to Germany for Euro 2024? talkSPORT.com takes a look…

Gareth’s defensive dilemma

While England have gone into each of their last four competitions with a settled back four, this summer is markedly different.

Kyle Walker has the right-back spot wrapped up – that’s the good news.

The bad news is that the other three position continue to give Southgate sleepless nights.

Luke Shaw has made England’s 26-man squad, but faces a tough task to be deemed fit to compete at the level required to shine at Euro 2024.

Kieran Trippier has played there in England’s two warm-up matches, but his performances certainly haven’t put fans’ minds at ease.

Ezri Konsa is a option to play there, but he could also be needed at centre-back with England duo John Stones and Marc Guehi requiring treatment against Iceland.

John Stones was replaced at half-time in a worrying blow to England

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John Stones was replaced at half-time in a worrying blow to EnglandCredit: Getty
Meanwhile Trippier has struggled to impress as a makeshift left back

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Meanwhile Trippier has struggled to impress as a makeshift left backCredit: Getty

Both players are expected to be fit, but with Jarell Quansah being kept on standby, it is clear that England’s defensive options are thin at best – not what you need as you prepare to embark on what you hope will be a month-long trip to Germany.

Is Phil Foden at risk of being dropped?

He might have been unplayable for Manchester City this term, but Phil Foden has been anything but for England.

Joe Cole says he’s worried England are light in defence as Harry Maguire and Jarrad Branthwaite are dropped for Euro 2024

The midfielder linked up with England having scored 27 times and providing 12 assists for Man City, leaving many to tip him as a potential star of the tournament.

Unfortunately his performance against Iceland was anonymous, something which has happened a little bit too often in the white of England.

Gareth Southgate didn’t sound too concerned post-match, saying: “Phil needed the game. I am not concerned about his performance after a few more days training, that’ll come.”

However talkSPORT commentator Jim Proudfoot is not totally convinced that he should be a dead-cert to start for England.

He said: “I don’t know a Manchester City fan that admires Phil Foden more than I do, but he hasn’t conjured up a raft of stellar performances for England, and that’s a concern.

“On the basis of his Man City form, I find it incomprehensible we could be even having this debate because I think he’s a sensational talent, but I don’t know that we know how to get him into the England team.

Foden looked like a shell of his usual self against Iceland

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Foden looked like a shell of his usual self against IcelandCredit: Getty

“I just wonder where he is going to end up being an impact sub, and I almost hate myself for saying that, but we just see it quite often enough in an England shirt.

“He’s scored two international goals in nearly four years, and I don’t think we know how to get the best out of him.

“You don’t need the best individuals; you need the best team.

“I am just putting it out there that a more orthodox left winger might bring more to the team.

“I am not saying Phil Foden shouldn’t play; I am just not convinced that’s the right balance.”

With Cole Palmer and Eberechi Eze both impressing over the last week for England, Southgate certainly has some big decisions to make.

If he’s basing his first XI on these warm-up matches then Foden could be a surprise omission against Serbia.

Foden should have enough money in the bank to ensure he retains his starting spot at the Euros

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Foden should have enough money in the bank to ensure he retains his starting spot at the EurosCredit: Getty

Hey Jude, we miss you

England had almost all of their star men on show against Iceland, with one notable omission.

Jude Bellingham was given an extra week to rest after helping Real Madrid to Champions League glory last weekend with Gareth Southgate hoping that the break will see him turn up ready to shine.

Based on the performance against Iceland, England will need him to be on top form.

Despite being just 20, Bellingham has emerged as one of England’s leading figures as he provides energy and quality in equal measure through the middle of the park.

England looked leggy at Wembley with Declan Rice and Kobbie Mainoo struggling to gel against Iceland – something that would undoubtedly be aided by Bellingham’s presence.

Bellingham's stock has risen even further despite not playing for England this week

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Bellingham’s stock has risen even further despite not playing for England this weekCredit: Getty

Bellingham and Rice have linked up well in previous internationals with the Real Madrid adding an athleticism to the team’s engine room.

While England have quality in numerous positions throughout their midfield and attack, no player has seen their stock rise as much as Bellingham over the last week – a big worry considering he’s the player who hasn’t featured.

An encouraging audition for Anthony Gordon

While many of England’s stars failed to show their quality, the same can’t be said for Anthony Gordon.

Having missed the Bosnia clash at St James’ Park, the Newcastle star was given a starting role against Iceland at Wembley – an opportunity that he didn’t pass up.

Replicating his performances for the Magpies, Gordon lined up on the left flank and used his pace and direct running to cause plenty of problems for Iceland’s defence.

Other players seem to prioritise cutting inside to link up with their teammates or to try and get a shot away, but Gordon performed the role of a traditional winger perfectly as he got his head down and looked to advance into a position where he could really make the difference.

Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka are likely to be the preferred options in support of Harry Kane, but given Gordon’s displays for club and country this term, I doubt that many England fans would begrudge him a starting role for England at Euro 2024.

Anthony Gordon started for England against Iceland

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Anthony Gordon started for England against IcelandCredit: Getty
His performance will have given Southgate a positive selection dilemma

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His performance will have given Southgate a positive selection dilemmaCredit: Getty

A need for a clinical edge

If England are going to go all the way at Euro 2024, they will need to get the ball in the back of the net.

Despite fielding a much stronger team on paper, the Three Lions were limited to just one shot on target against Iceland, with 12 of their efforts missing the target completely.

England go into Euro 2024 with arguably the world’s most in-form striker in Harry Kane who scored a staggering 44 goals in 45 games for Bayern Munich this term.

Unfortunately a lack of match action at the back end of the season has seemingly seen him lost some of that sharpness.

Kane is fully fit for England, but after coming on in the second half against Bosnia and lasting just over an hour against Iceland, it appears that he isn’t firing on all cylinders.

Kane is still looking to recapture the sort of form that saw him thrive at Bayern Munich

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Kane is still looking to recapture the sort of form that saw him thrive at Bayern MunichCredit: Getty

Those minutes at Wembley will have done him good but based on his first-half miss against Iceland, Kane has some work to do to get himself up to speed.

England’s group stage opener against Serbia is a week on Sunday and one of Southgate’s biggest tasks will be making sure that Kane is fit and firing for that clash, otherwise it could be a frustrating tournament for the Three Lions should they fail to turn their dominance into goals.

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