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Marcus Rashford may have answered one England question – but there are many more – John Cross


Marcus Rashford provided the certainty on a day when Gareth Southgate was probably given more questions than answers.

Rashford wore the armband, looked sharp, scored his 100th career goal for club and country and went a long way to nailing down his starting place in the Group opener with Croatia next Sunday.

But England’s final warm-up friendly at the Riverside did not solve any other dilemmas – and probably gave Southgate even more to think about.

Another dazzling, all action display from Jack Grealish who was man of the match, won the decisive penalty which Rashford converted and is now pressing his claims to start the Euros.

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James Ward-Prowse was terrific, surely the Southampton midfielder has done enough to take the spare place in the squad when Trent Alexander-Arnold’s replacement is announced on Monday.

Rashford celebrates his winner from the penalty spot
Rashford celebrates his winner from the penalty spot

Jadon Sancho shone and provided real excitement, Jordan Henderson got 45 minutes – his first football since February – but missed a penalty while Dominic Calvert-Lewin hit the bar and missed a sitter.

Ben White impressed in defence but – like Ben Godfrey – is not in the 26 while keeper Sam Johnstone pulled off a late wonder save to preserve England’s lead, seal the win and perhaps nail his place as No2 behind Jordan Pickford.

It was hardly the game which will send the fans – some of whom disgraced themselves again with the loud booing of the knee before kick-off – full of confidence that England will win the tournament.

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And with less than a week until the tournament kicks off, we still do not know who will start, what formation Southgate will use and there are one hell of a lot of players who have reported up late after long seasons which means preparation has been rushed and chaotic.

It is defence which is the biggest concern because of the absence of Harry Maguire as both leader and centre half. John Stones is surely a shoo-in but, like the rest of the Manchester City and Chelsea players, only reported up on Saturday.

But who should play alongside him? England do not have many options. But it cannot be Tyrone Mings based on current form, certainly not in a back four anyway.

Tyrone Mings will be sweating on his place in the team
Tyrone Mings will be sweating on his place in the team

Mings did not have a great season for Aston Villa, was lucky not to be sent off against Austria and looked full of mistakes against Romania. Maybe it is over confidence because he wants to give an aura of looking assured and yet has become too arrogant in his defending.

Southgate may end up having to go back to a back three to shore things up and maybe that is the only thing stopping Ward-Prowse getting the call because they are now short on numbers.

It was Ward-Prowse who provided every good set piece, his passing was perfection and he did everything possibly to prove his point.

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Rashford, who has looked tired and jaded in recent weeks, looked sharp and was denied a big penalty call after being tripped by Romania captain Vlad Chiriches. How we miss VAR when it is not there.

Sancho gave a glimpse of his talent when he hit the bar, Calvert-Lewin headed against the bar from a Ward-Prowse free kick. Calvert-Lewin missed a far easier chance from another Ward-Prowse free kick after half time.

Finally England got the breakthrough after 67 minutes. Grealish tricked his way into the box, Romania substitute Tiberiu Capusa had barely been on a minute but got sucked into a clumsy challenge and conceded a penalty. Rashford stroked it home so coolly.

Chiriches conceded another penalty after 78 minutes when he bundled over Calvert-Lewin and, with Rashford off the pitch amid a raft of substitutions, Henderson stepped up only to be denied by Nita’s diving save.





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