England’s latest crop of debutants put on the almost perfect show for manager Gareth Southgate as a makeshift Three Lions side began their World Cup preparations with a goalless draw against holders Germany.
While there were no goals to cheer, the contest was arguably more entertaining than the whole of England’s qualifying campaign put together, as in between the sticks Jordon Pickford made some fine saves to heap the pressure on Joe Hart while, at the other end, another new boy in Ruben Loftus-Cheek dazzled with his pace and trickery.
With almost all of the big names having withdrawn from the squad, the shine was somewhat taken of the two friendlies against Germany and then Brazil, however, a composed, exciting and refreshing display from Southgate’s side will have a few of those stars watching from home worried about their position.
Chelsea’s on-loan striker Tammy Abraham was also handed a debut and, while he was taking up encouraging positions he nerves showed through until he was taken off in the second-half. The brightest of the new faces was Abraham’s fellow Blues loanee Loftus-Cheek.
After a slow start the Crystal Palace midfielder sparked into life, embarrassing Leroy Sane and Marcel Halstenberg with a double nutmeg in the first half, before consistently looking to drive the Three Lions forward in the second, furthermore, Liverpool’s Joe Gomez and Burnley’s Jack Cork also looked assured making their debuts from the bench.
Though Southgate will have wanted a goal from Friday night’s performance, having been without so many key players, the manager will be delighted to have been given such a selection headache by players he has overseen through the ranks at St. George’s Park.