Five things learned as England Under-21s crash to Italy loss and Euro exit

Three Lions Wembley

England lost 3-1 to Italy to bring their European Championship campaign in the Czech Republic to an early, and disappointing conclusion.

Midfield possession was sloppy

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the tournament was England's inability to impose themselves in the midfield battles. Against both Portugal and Italy, England were found wanting when it came to defending, pushing on from midfield, passing and technique. On paper it seemed like there were plenty of options in the middle of the park, but in reality, no central midfielder played well during the three games.  

John Stones' return failed to improve the defence

There was plenty of talk before the tournament of how impressive Stones had been, and that he was England's next great defender, but the Everton man did little to convince on his return to the starting line up. It might be a little hard on him to criticise his performance after suffering concussion before the opening game, but England's central defence was so poor for the duration of the tournament that it was easy to expect things to improve once Stones returned. In reality, it got worst, as he and Gibson were culpable for each Italy goal, and the former Barnsley man instead insisted on dribbling out of defence at 3-0 down.

Harry Kane looked England's best player, but...

The Tottenham striker will have been disappointed to go three full matches without scoring. Nobody tried harder than the 21-year-old to make a difference against the Italians, and some of his touches and passing were superb during the match, but still he was restricted to long range shots, which may be the fault of how England were set up rather than Kane's. This could end up being his last ever Under-21 match, let's hope he brings better fortune to the full side.

Lingard showed plenty of promise again, but he has to work on his shooting

After scoring such an excellent winner against Sweden in the last match, it was some surprise to see the Manchester United winger struggling to hit the target against Italy. He had one great effort after dribbling into the box, with the ball curling just wide, but things got worse from there, and though he has to be commended for getting in dangerous areas, Lingard will have been disappointed not to have scored in the match.

England finished bottom of their group for the second successive European Tournament

England's failure was their third successive tournament where they failed to qualify from the group stage. Despite all of the positive results they've had since Gareth Southgate took over, all of the lauded players within the squad like Harry Kane, Jack Butland, Nathan Redmond and Danny Ings, England still failed to get over the first hurdle. It's really no surprise at all that things aren't much better for Roy Hodgson and the full Three Lions side.

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