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Three takeaways from England’s Euro 2024 warm-up win over Bosnia

England 3-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina (Palmer 60′ pen, Alexander-Arnold 85′, Kane 89′)

ST JAMES’ PARK — We should all know the drill by now – do not tune in to pre-tournament tune-ups if you want to see evidence England will eviscerate the competition at Euro 2024.

A largely staccato performance from an understudy XI drew predictable ire from those who see few signs that Gareth Southgate is ready to lead this vibrant England squad into the history books.

But with so many squad issues to solve, this desperately flat friendly probably served a purpose for the England manager that goes beyond entertainment value.

Take in-form Cole Palmer, give the wonderfully fluid Eberechi Eze another chance and don’t sweat Kieran Trippier at left-back. That’s three pretty decent takeaways from a fairly dire game that will not live long in the memory for many inside a sold-out St James’ Park.

For the rest? The only meaningful conclusion is that they aren’t likely to see many minutes if England’s big hitters are fit and firing. That and the fact that Trent Alexander-Arnold – who scored a smart late goal – probably only works in midfield if high-calibre teammates like Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham are part of his supporting cast.

Southgate had probably signposted what kind of night we were in for when he confirmed there would be no debutants starting at St James’ Park.

Instead this was all about solving the squad puzzle before the cavalry were introduced in the latter stages to give the scoreline a nice gloss and Harry Kane his 63rd international goal.

Of those below Kane’s status who were handed an audition here, Palmer and Eze did the most to advance their cause. But they inched closer to contention rather than taking purposeful strides, Palmer winning plaudits for the authority with which he struck a 60th minute penalty that lifted this flattest of friendlies.

In the deficit column the performances of Marc Guehi and Lewis Dunk did little to soothe fears around Harry Maguire, who remains a major doubt to start against Serbia in 12 days’ time.

Guehi is probably the next cab off the rank if Maguire can’t prove his fitness in time for the game in Gelsenkirchen but he looked nervy and error-prone alongside Dunk, a shadow of the player who has performed with purpose for Crystal Palace.

That made it strange that Southgate didn’t hand Jarrad Branthwaite a starting berth, instead handing him minutes when Bosnia’s intensity dipped. The Everton man has been arguably the form defender in the Premier League this season and looked quite bright when he came on but question marks still surround his inclusion in the squad that travels to Germany this weekend.

Player of the match: Cole Palmer

  • There weren’t too many standouts at St James’ Park but Palmer showed composure throughout.

Perhaps the only issue conclusively settled was how welcome it was to see England on the road again. The Three Lions seem anchored to Wembley as long as there are corporate boxes to hawk but there was a vitality about St James’ Park even on a night when the result wasn’t important.

Energy and enthusiasm isn’t always a given at the national stadium for friendlies but it was present in abundance here in front of a mostly younger audience. Even Jordan Pickford – initially greeted with a smattering of catcalls at a stadium where his Sunderland connection will never be forgiven – got a good reception. Taking England around the country in the next World Cup qualifying cycle feels like a no brainer.

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