England boss Gareth Southgate says Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jack Grealish and Bukayo Saka have got a jump on his absent players in the pecking order after their impressive performances in the 3-0 friendly win over Wales.
Calvert-Lewin marked his debut with a goal, Grealish was the standout player and Saka also showed promise on his first senior appearance as they took their chance in style at Wembley.
They were given the opportunity partly because Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho were all missing having breached Covid guidelines at the weekend.
Abraham and Sancho could be back for the UEFA Nations League game against Belgium on Sunday, while Chilwell is struggling with a non-coronavirus illness, but their misdemeanours might have cost them.
Calvert-Lewin continued his fine start to the season by breaking the deadlock on his debut before Conor Coady and Danny Ings bagged their first England goals to seal the win.
Southgate’s starting XI had just 54 caps between them but the Three Lions boss said a number of them had moved up the pecking order as Abraham, Chilwell and Sancho watched on.
A post shared by Jack Grealish (@jackgrealish) on Oct 8, 2020 at 3:32pm PDT
“That in essence is the really big lesson for anyone in that situation, you want to be involved and playing,” he replied when asked about the importance of a player doing everything they can to keep their place.
“When you have the shirt or a place in the squad you don’t want to allow other people to have the opportunity to take it and whenever we give debuts or give time on the pitch to guys who deserve it.
“There is opportunity there for them to grab a place and push themselves up the pecking order. Several did that and there is competition for places, not just the squad we named but players just outside that.”
Wales boss Ryan Giggs also rested a number of his key players as he keeps them fresh for their own Nations League games – but he was pleased with a number of things he saw from his young side.
Tough night in London but we're already looking ahead to Dublin.
— Wales 🏴 (@Cymru) October 8, 2020
“There were a lot of good things,” he said.
“We started the game really well, the pressing was good and we were confident on the ball which you have to be against a quality team.
“If you switch off or give bad goals away you are going to get punished. The first goal was disappointing because it was soft, then two goals from set-pieces after that, we normally do really well but we just went to sleep on them.”
Giggs confirmed Kieffer Moore was forced off in the first half with a toe injury which could yet rule the striker out of Sunday’s game with the Republic of Ireland.
But he offered better news on Aaron Ramsey, who missed the game at Wembley after two positive Covid tests at club side Juventus, with the former Arsenal man set to return at the weekend.
“Aaron is fine,” added Giggs. “He is going to meet us in Dublin, that is fine. He has trained all week in Turin so everything is good there.”