The England duo who will have Man City, Newcastle, and Man Utd stars worried ahead of Euro 2024

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The Three Lions beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-0 at St. James’ Park on Monday evening

Gareth Southgate could barely contain his grin. "Ebere has got lovely movement to go past players,” the England manager told Channel 4. “He's got power.” During a separate interview with talkSPORT, the Waistcoated One (now the Knitted Polo One, in truth) added: “It was lovely to see Eze go in and play with that swagger that he has at Palace. He’s had a couple of camps with us now and it’s good to see him getting more and more integrated with the group and feeling more comfortable in the shirt. We saw that beautiful gliding run where he can take people out through the middle of the pitch with the power that he has.”

Indeed, Southgate spent much of his post-match press obligation singing the praises of Eberechi Eze. The Crystal Palace talisman was handed his first senior international start during Monday evening’s 3-0 friendly win over Bosnia and Herzegovina - stationed out on the left flank, a willing, magnetic pin for Trent Alexander-Arnold’s sweeping diagonal fancies - and for large swathes of the encounter, was the brightest spark in an otherwise routinely drab affair.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As others sauntered and pussyfooted, Eze darted with purpose; drilling into pockets of space, bamboozling the opposition with deft feints and blurred footwork, always positive and lively and eager. For the duration of the first half at least, nobody in an England shirt looked as likely to meaningfully bother their Bosnian visitors.

If Monday night, as well as Friday’s looming friendly with Iceland at Wembley, are about seizing opportunities, there is arguably little more Eze could have done to impress onto Southgate his worthiness of a place in the Three Lions’ German-bound contingent. You would imagine that Anthony Gordon and Jack Grealish (who, to his credit, looked very decent when introduced) were watching on from the St. James’ Park mildly panicked by the ease with which their Palace counterpart ingratiated himself at the very highest level.

You could make a similar argument about his club colleague Adam Wharton. While the 20-year-old was limited to a half hour cameo on his England debut, the staggering effortlessness with which he slotted into the centre of midfield was almost freakish in its composure.

Last week, Southgate made the bold claim that the Selhurst Park starlet was the kind of midfielder that the Three Lions have been missing “for seven or eight years”. Even in the his brief, metronomic outing, it was easy to see what the England manager meant. Wharton has a preternatural knack for anticipating danger, for emerging from tight spaces with the ball at his feet, and for making the complex look irksomely simple.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His self-assuredness is likely to earn him frequent comparisons with Manchester United prodigy Kobbie Mainoo, and for good reason, but if Wharton’s showing against Bosnia was anything to go by, the boy prince of Old Trafford may not be as nailed on for a starting role as many are beginning to believe. The Palace midfielder offers an increasingly viable alternative to Mainoo, and while you would assume that the United star will head into Euro 2024 above him in the pecking order, Wharton has shown plenty to suggest that he should not only be on the plane to Germany, but will be snapping at the heels of those ahead of him the whole time.

His exhibition on Monday, like that of Eze, provides Southgate with yet another pleasant selection headache to consider. But make no mistake, the manager’s conundrum is England’s gain.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.