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Gareth Southgate takes plenty of positives from England’s penultimate warm-up

Gareth Southgate took plenty of positives from the way England came through their penultimate European Championship warm-up friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Euro 2020 runners-up are among the favourites to become kings of the continent this summer and in the midst of a 10-day training camp featuring two friendlies.

Newcastle’s St James’ Park hosted the first of those matches and witnessed a 3-0 victory, with Cole Palmer marking his first start with a maiden international goal.

Trent Alexander-Arnold added to that spot-kick by scoring an outstanding volley and substitute Harry Kane’s late effort completed the scoring as attention turns to Friday.

England welcome Iceland to Wembley that evening and then Southgate has to confirm who makes the cut as he whittles his 33-strong training squad to a final 26-man selection for Germany.

Asked if he thought it would be a difficult decision, the manager said: “Yeah, of course.

“It’s a decision that we understand the significance of for all of the players, so we’re giving it the respect and consideration it deserves, really, to make fair, right decisions.

“Of course it’s always going to be subjective and we’ve got to balance what we need in every area of the pitch as well, so that’s the added complication.

“It’s not just getting the best individuals in. There’s a positional element to that as well.

“But we’ve got really good options and I think we’ve come through tonight without any physical issues, which was really, really important.

“Some players needed the game, they needed the minutes and they need the minutes again on Friday.

“That’s why we brought Harry Kane on. He needed some match time today and then to back that up.

“We’re spinning a lot of plates trying to get individuals into things, manage minutes, perform well and everything else but I think today was a good night for us.”

England’s Cole Palmer (second left) celebrates
Cole Palmer (second left) marked his first start with a maiden international goal (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Southgate was pleased by the physical test Bosnia provided, so too the opportunity to practice breaking down a back five – something he expects to face in the group stage.

The England boss believes the final “scoreline reflected the performance” on an evening when some individuals impressed.

“I think there were numerous good ones,” he said. “Clearly, I would imagine Eberechi (Eze) has caught the eye with the way he started the game and the way he glides past people and the power that he shows.

“I thought Conor Gallagher’s was an important performance for us, given how important Declan Rice’s role is.

“I think Conor’s work with the ball has improved. We know what he can do without the ball, but I thought he played with real maturity tonight.

“Then a first goal for Cole Palmer. I thought Adam Wharton (who came on for his debut) also showed what he’s been doing at the end of the season and in training.

“He sees pictures early, he can play forward. It’s obviously very early for him but lovely that he looked as comfortable as he did.

“So, a team that didn’t have a lot of caps on the field when we started, but I think it showed the way that we work that people feel comfortable in an England shirt pretty quickly and that was lovely to see.”

Alexander-Arnold has not always looked that comfortable wearing the Three Lions shirt but impressed when deployed in midfield.

The Liverpool man had reverted to a more familiar right-back role when he scored his superb volley and Southgate believes he can flourish in both roles for England.

“Could be either,” he said. “I think in a game like tonight, we felt there was going to be more space where his quality at full-back could help us.

England’s Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates
Alexander-Arnold celebrated scoring England’s second goal (Mike Egerton/PA)

“That’s something against a wing-back system that could definitely be helpful.

“I think in midfield of course he’s still really learning and discovering the role, so it’s positionally at times going to be different for him.

“But, again, you saw moments of the qualities of his passing and the slid passes, the longer passes. Both are really good options for us.”