England 2-1 Australia: Rating the players

Date published: Friday 27th May 2016 10:59

Fraser Forster: Almost guilty of an almighty cock-up when he dallied over a backpass early in the game but recovered to look solid enough to be England’s No. 2. Robbed of a clean sheet by Eric Dier’s excellent diving header.


Nathaniel Clyne: No right-back should look quite so rushed and under pressure against Australia and his discomfort showed in some woeful passing statistics. Handed some terrible hospital passes by Jordan Henderson so we will give him the benefit of the doubt; he still edges out Kyle Walker.


Chris Smalling: Too often took it upon himself to step out of defence and make a challenge in midfield to leave space in behind that a better team than Australia would have exploited. Looked more than decent in the air but doubts persist about his decision-making. No point worrying, mind, because we will always just score one more goal than the opposition. It’s a simple plan.


John Stones: No-nonsense clearance in the first ten minutes suggested a man who knows that faffing will not be tolerated. This is the north east, son, and we will have no fannying around. Possibly his best performance in an England shirt, Stones finally allied proper defending with some astute distribution.


Ryan Bertrand: Simply a better defender than Danny Rose, as displayed in his nous to sweep around and cover for the AWOL Smalling in the first half. Linked up neatly with James Milner in the second half and proved himself far handier with a set-piece than Harry Kane. Pick him, Roy.


Jack Wilshere: Glimpses of his quick feet and even quicker vision came in the counter-attack that saw him break quickly and release the ball at exactly the right time. Then there was the ball in to Sterling that no other current English midfielder could have produced and you thought ‘well Jack, you’ve still got it’.

But then there were the moments when he was caught staring at Australia’s man in the hole and wondering who was supposed to be picking him up; it’s you, Jack.

Right now he simply cannot play alone at the base of a diamond. Eric, we need you.


Jordan Henderson: “He picked him out nicely,” said Glenn Hoddle after the ball had flown way over Marcus Rashford’s head. Simply does not look good enough to play in an England side that should be dynamic and devastating on the counter-attack. I know I keep repeating this but he has literally never had an outstanding game for England. This game never looked in danger of bucking that trend.


Danny Drinkwater: That Steve Walsh quote about Leicester playing three in midfield and two of them were N’Golo Kante sprung to mind while watching Drinkwater look utterly lost and out of his depth in the opening 45 minutes. The system? Perhaps, but I can’t shake the feeling that he is simply not international class, despite all the good will sent his way. He did improve after the break but if this is a battle between him and Henderson then the winners are Dier and Dele Alli.


Adam Lallana: There just seemed to be a whole lot of haring around for very little reward.


Raheem Sterling: It was decided a few months ago that Sterling is actually utterly useless – a fraud. The problem with that decision is that it is utter nonsense. Sterling has clearly had a difficult half-season but he remains a supremely talented and dangerous player, as evidenced by a performance full of intelligence and creativity. For a player with supposedly no end product, he sure created Wayne Rooney’s goal well and set Marcus Rashford free more than once. Ignore the nonsense from Hoddle, who tried to absolve Rashford of any blame for a fluffed chance by claiming Sterling’s inch-perfect ball was at fault. Can we not all agree that Rashford is wonderful without claiming that he is flawless at 18?


Marcus Rashford: The finish. The calmness. The running. The intelligence. The aplomb. He is proper and he is going to France.



James Milner (on for Wilshere, 45): The expected energy, determination and intelligent passing. Right now he should be ahead of Henderson.

Wayne Rooney (on for Lallana, 45): Well Roy, you sure know how to put the cat amongst the pigeons. Left? In behind? Deep-lying midfielder? Actually, he’s not a bad striker – at least for England.

Ross Barkley (on for Rashford, 63): Suddenly looks very much like a man making up the numbers. The usual Barkley – a couple of good moments but caught on the ball too often for comfort.

Eric Dier (on for Smalling, 73): No Glenn, he hasn’t had a couple of years playing in the holding position. And no, the own goal doesn’t mean he can no longer play in defence.

Andros Townsend (on for Sterling, 76): How can playing in a relegated side have boosted his confidence quite so much? While Barkley was forgettable, Townsend was direct, lively, dangerous.

Tom Heaton (on for Forster, 87): Nice for him.


Sarah Winterburn


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