Gareth Southgate praised the contribution of his England debutants, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jordan Pickford prominent among them, on an evening of “real positives” as England held the world champions to a goalless draw.
Pickford made a flurry of fine first-half saves to deny Germany, with Loftus-Cheek growing into the friendly fixture and proving an imposing presence, particularly after the break. The Crystal Palace midfielder, on loan from Chelsea, stamped his authority on a position where only a few months ago Southgate was complaining about a lack of options.
“Ruben’s a player I’ve watched do that from under-16 level and, despite his size and his appearance and the way he plays, he’s not hugely confident at times,” the England manager said. “It took him 10 minutes to have a look around him and say: ‘Hold on, I can do this.’ He’s got so many good attributes and that’s why he’s in the team. The wider public might not be as aware of him but we believe in him and the others we played.
“So I’m not surprised with any of them. They’ve shown that in the younger ages and in training. There’s been an energy about the group this week. It may have seemed a bit messy from the outside, with loads of pull-outs, but it’s been really tight. And that performance was an encouraging one. There were some real positives.”
Pickford made the most of his opportunity following Jack Butland’s withdrawal after fracturing a finger in training on Thursday.
Angus Gunn, on loan at Norwich City from Manchester City, will join the squad over the weekend and will be joined by other members of the under-21s for the friendly against Brazil on Tuesday. “It would be a good experience for a couple of the under-21s to have a few days with the seniors and to be involved against Brazil would be brilliant. A no-brainer,” Southgate said.
“I remember Jordan’s first couple of under-21 games and we were thinking he was quick around the goal, makes saves. Goalkeepers either save the ones they should and not much else or make match-winning saves. He’s certainly made really important saves and, with his feet, gives the team a different dimension as well. He can be really pleased with his performance.”
Phil Jones, who departed midway through the first half after aggravating a thigh complaint, will be assessed and may return to Manchester United.
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