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In Focus: Winners and losers from England's Nations League games
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Matthew Storey
LiveScore
Eric Dier played every minute of England's games against Italy and Germany on his international comeback
Eric Dier played every minute of England's games against Italy and Germany on his international comeback

The next time England line up for an international game it will be their World Cup opener against Iran.

A thrilling 3-3 draw against Germany whetted the appetite after a dismal 1-0 defeat to Italy on Friday as Gareth Southgate’s preparations continued.

But which players impressed in the two games and who did their chances of playing in Qatar more harm than good?

We pick out the winners and losers from the two Nations League contests with less than two months until the Iran clash.

Winners

Jude Bellingham

Jude Bellingham was the recipient of both a standing ovation and the man-of-the-match award at Wembley last night.

If there was any doubt about the 19-year-old’s spot in the side before these two games, that has been extinguished by two eye-catching displays.

Combative off the ball, Germany resorted to fouling him on numerous occasions to stop his forward runs and he won the penalty that Harry Kane converted to put England 3-2 up.

Pundit Jermaine Jenas said "build everything around" the youngster on social media, and it was easy to see why.

Eric Dier

After two years in the international wilderness, it is now hard to see how Eric Dier will not line up for England against Iran on November 21.

Reinvigorated by Antonio Conte at Tottenham, he was selected in the middle of the back three in both matches and put in accomplished displays.

Though he was as powerless as anyone to stop the German onslaught after half-time, that blame can hardly be laid at his feet.

Southgate is a Dier fan too, knowing that the 28-year-old has the right, strong mentality needed in a tournament, as he showed at the 2018 World Cup.

Bukayo Saka

Bukayo Saka was nowhere near this list with 30 minutes remaining of last night’s game.

Out of position at left wing-back in Italy, Saka started on the bench at Wembley and it looked like being a frustrating international break.

Then the Arsenal attacker was brought on to replace Phil Foden and helped turn the tide.

He was involved in the first goal and set up the second on a night where he reminded Southgate just what he can do in his preferred position.

The wing-backs

Reece James and Luke Shaw look set to be England's first-choice wing-backs in Qatar
Reece James and Luke Shaw look set to be England's first-choice wing-backs in Qatar

England have four high-class right-backs at Southgate’s disposal, but it is Reece James who has won the battle to be the Three Lions’ first choice.

He started both games at right wing-back, defending diligently for the most part and provided the cross for Luke Shaw’s goal last night.

Shaw is another winner after impressing during his first start in any competition since August 13 against Germany.

There was a sumptuous pass to Raheem Sterling to set up England’s best first-half chance, as well as his well-taken goal — he may not be a starter for Manchester United but he appears to be for his country.

Losers

Harry Maguire

Only those without a heart will not have felt a degree of sympathy for Harry Maguire at Wembley.

After a solid enough display against Italy and first half versus Germany, it all went wrong very quickly for the under-fire centre-back.

First, he gave the ball away and then upended Jamal Musiala to gift the visitors a penalty, before losing the ball deep in the opposition half which started a counter-attack and led to their second.

Southgate said he would only not pick senior players if it was "untenable" to do so and given his crisis of confidence, Maguire may now fit into that category.

Nick Pope

Nick Pope looks on after Kai Havertz pounced on his mistake to pull Germany level at 3-3
Nick Pope looks on after Kai Havertz pounced on his mistake to pull Germany level at 3-3

It was something of a surprise that Southgate opted to use Nick Pope for both Nations League games and not give Aaron Ramsdale or Dean Henderson an opportunity.

But he had clearly decided that the Newcastle keeper was his No2 and needed the game time just in case Jordan Pickford is not fit for Qatar.

Unfortunately, Pope just never looked as comfortable in an England shirt as he does in a Magpies one.

His kicking was poor and put England under pressure at times, while failing to gather a routine save cost his side a morale-boosting win.

Phil Foden

Phil Foden is one of the most talented players in England’s squad, but it just has not quite happened for him for his national team yet.

His last goals for England came in 2020 when he scored a brace in a 4-0 win over Iceland and his most recent assists have all come against the likes of Andorra, San Marino and 10-man Ivory Coast.

England looked most dangerous when on the counter-attack, going forward with pace, while Foden seems to suit a more careful unlocking of a defence.

Mason Mount was influential off the bench, as was the aforementioned Saka, and Foden’s spot in the starting XI is far from secure despite beginning both games this break.

The forgotten men

England's forgotten men look on after missing out on the squad for the Germany game
England's forgotten men look on after missing out on the squad for the Germany game

What a miserable international break for Fikayo Tomori, Jarrod Bowen and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Centre-back is arguably England’s weakest position, yet AC Milan regular Tomori was not given a minute against Italy and left out of the squad for the Germany game.

Jarrod Bowen's World Cup dreams appear over after he failed to get on the pitch for the Three Lions following a slow start to the campaign for West Ham.

And Trent Alexander-Arnold's difficult international career continued as he failed to add to his 17 caps and looks set to be left out of Southgate’s World Cup squad.

Tags

EnglandWorld CupUEFA Nations League
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