How England’s players rated against Spain

Date published: Friday 13th November 2015 11:21

JOE HART: Became the first goalkeeper to start as England captain since David Seaman with his 56th international cap. Helpless against Mario Gaspar’s stunning winner, well-beaten by Santi Cazorla’s calm finish, but made a handful of crucial saves.

There was something of a clamour for Hodgson to start Jack Butland in his stead in order to reward the Stoke shot-stopper’s excellent recent form, but that rather misses the point of using these friendlies as preparations for next summer’s European Championships. Hart is the undisputed No 1, so Hart should start every game for which he is available.


KYLE WALKER: He may be in the midst of a promising spell at club level for Spurs, but Walker continues to disappoint on the international scene. On an evening where England looked, on the whole, resolute and calm in defence, Walker was the error-strewn, panicky exception to the rule. Nathaniel Clyne will not have been watching on from the bench with apprehension.


CHRIS SMALLING: Not quite as convincing as he has been for Manchester United this season, and it was interesting to see him defend against a side which insists on dominating possession as opposed to defending. Still, Mike will undeniably form half of England’s central defensive pairing in France. Just one question remains: Who should partner him?


PHIL JONES: Not Phil Jones. A typical battling performance from Smalling’s club team-mate, but being beaten by Cesc Fabregas and Pedro in the air is not a good look, especially for a central defender over six feet tall. How Jones was chosen ahead of John Stones. for example. is a decision which will righftully be questioned in the coming days.


RYAN BERTRAND: That he was England’s brightest attacking outlet says perhaps just as much about his team, but this was an accomplished performance from Bertrand. His marauding runs certainly helped Raheem Sterling on the left wing, while the Southampton man looked assured in defence. Save a miraculous recovery from Luke Shaw, the 26-year-old could be Hodgson’s first-choice come next summer; righftully so in his current form.


MICHAEL CARRICK: Wait, Michael Carrick played?

This was Carrick’s first England appearance since March, and after 91 anonymous minutes, it could and should be his last for some time. He has looked promising recently for Manchester United but, without the shield of Bastian Schweinsteiger or Morgan Schneiderlin, the 34-year-old looked horribly like a 34-year-old.


FABIAN DELPH: Has played just 29 minutes in the Premier League for Manchester City so far this season, and it showed early on with a number of slack passes. Grew into the game however, and combined well with Bertrand and Sterling in the first half in particular. A mere coincidence that Spain scored less than 10 minutes after his energy and pressing was removed?


ADAM LALLANA: It’s growing more and more difficult to shake off the idea that Lallana just isn’t of the required standard against such an opponent. The Liverpool midfielder offered nothing of note from over an hour’s play.


ROSS BARKLEY: First thing’s first: My piece on Ross Barkley on Friday was not a critique of the Everton man, more a criticism of Everton manager Roberto Martinez and how he utililises the midfielder. For what it’s worth, Hodgson listened to Martinez and used Barkley in a similar role to which he has become accustomed for the Toffees, and he looked bright. The 21-year-old’s pace and power was an asset as England were forced to play on the break, but his decision-making still requires a lot of work. More positives than negatives.


RAHEEM STERLING: The predictable criticisms were levelled at Sterling after a seemingly subdued performance against Spain, but it rather misses the point. Spain feared the Manchester City winger’s pace to such an extent that they often doubled up on him; it’s no coincidence that Bertrand had such a positive game going forward from Sterling’s flank. The 20-year-old was nowhere near his best on Friday, but still had as big an impact as any of his team-mates.


HARRY KANE: His form in an England shirt earlier this season provided solace during a barren run at club level but, after scoring in each of his last four games for Spurs, his showing against Spain acts as a reminder that he is still just 22 and developing. Kane toiled as the lone striker against the hosts and tested Iker Casillas with numerous attempts, but never truly looked like scoring. It was through no lack of effort of course, but with Wayne Rooney struggling for form, Kane wasted his best opportunity yet to stake his claim as a regular starter.


ERIC DIER (on for Lallana, 63): A deserved international debut saw the Spurs man fail to close down Cesc Fabregas for Spain’s opener, although Dier himself then provided Kane with a great chance with a sublime pass of his own. The 21-year-old will hopefully be entrusted with more minutes against France.


DELE ALLI (on for Delph, 63): Estonia and Lithuania are not quite Spain, as Alli himself will surely attest to. The 19-year-old looked poor in possession and suffered from a heavy touch when well-placed to score. He is, after all, a 19-year-old, and to be in with an outside chance of making the squad for next summer is an achievement in itself.


WAYNE ROONEY (on for Barkley, 73): Looked a far bigger threat as a second-half substitute as he has as a regular starter for club and country all season, and was unfortunate in hitting the crossbar late on.


JONJO SHELVEY (on for Carrick, 91): Bless him. There’s always Tuesday.


Matt Stead

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