England’s performance in defeat against Italy might not have been a ringing endorsement of World Cup winners-in-waiting, but this felt very much like a Three Lions’ 11 preparing to face Iran on November 21.
Gareth Southgate appeared to be sending a message that his outfield team selection had the tournament-opener in mind. Southgate’s 5-2-3 system is much maligned but the England boss will argue that it has laid the foundations for the biggest successes during his six-year reign.
The 51-year-old maintains a reputation for sticking with what he trusts - with no better example than the out-of-form Harry Maguire’s inclusion at San Siro - and the back-five system is filed under that category, despite calls for a more progressive formation.
Maguire and Southgate will feel vindicated following the defender’s inclusion, amid much criticism of his performances for Manchester United.Read more on express.co.uk