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Conor Gallagher timing his run perfectly to become another England option for Qatar – Andy Dunn


England’s new-look line-up left plenty to be desired at home to Switzerland during an unconvincing 2-1 win that saw Harry Kane level Bobby Charlton’s goal-scoring record

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In pictures: England v Switzerland

Considering he gave us Roland Rat, it was the sort of gimmick right up Greg Dyke’s street.

A countdown clock to Qatar 2022, put up on Football Association walls in 2013.

It was one of the more amusing moments of his time as FA chairman, even though he would later say it was performance specialist Dave Reddin who came up with the original idea.

But it was certainly Dyke who produced a list of what he considered realistic targets, the main one being triumph in Qatar.

It was the subject of some ridicule at the time but it is worth noting Dyke also said the under-20s should earmark their 2017 World Cup – which they won – and that the senior team should consider reaching the last four of Euro 2020 minimum requirement.

Perhaps Dyke knew what he was on about.

And after a semi-final loss at the last World Cup and a defeat in the final of last year’s European Championships, going all the way in Qatar would not be a surprising progression.

It goes without saying that any pointers from this type of contest – decent enough but hardly full-blooded – are not to be given too much significance.

Harry Kane won it for fortunate England with a late penalty, which was very harshly given after a VAR intervention.

But this was all about the fringe players and the young thrusters trying to make an England name for themselves.

And to put it bluntly, not too many of them did.






Conor Gallagher put in a positive display for England

HAVE YOUR SAY! Will Southgate take Gallagher to Qatar? Comment below

Conor Gallagher certainly caught the eye, was busy enough in his hour of action and had a decent first half effort headed away. More of him later.

But if anything concerns Southgate from this match, it will probably be the defensive back-ups.

Under Southgate, England have been almost watertight at times.

In fact, prior to this game, they had conceded only five goals in their last 20 matches.

But, especially after John Stones went lame in the warm-up, this was very much a scratch defence.

And, boy, did it show.

The obvious error was committed by Ben White, caught watching Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross while Breel Embolo headed it past Jordan Pickford.

But it would be unfair to single out White, even though he clearly looked less than commanding.

Understandably, Marc Guehi might have been suffering from debut nerves but was not close to his normally assured self and if, as the senior man, Conor Coady, was tasked with being the main organiser, the job proved a little tough for the Wolves man.

Again, this was very much an experimental rearguard and England’s superb defensive record over the past couple of years is also a credit to the likes of Declan Rice (who did not start here) and Kalvin Phillips (who is out injured).

Southgate loves a midfielder who can protect a defence.






Declan Rice started this game on the bench but was eventually introduced

There were none on show against Switzerland in the first half and the visitors should have been in comfortable charge before Luke Shaw struck in first half added time.

Gallagher can claim an assist, even though his pass was intended for Mason Mount.

Of all those young thrusters, Gallagher – currently on-loan at Crystal Palace from Chelsea – was the one to stand out, adding to his first half contributions with a particularly cute pass for Kane after the break.

And what Southgate will like most about Gallagher is his voracious appetite to win possession.

He does not always use it brilliantly but his knack of reclaiming the ball is one that is highly prized in the modern game.

And he is ultra-diligent, haring back to make one very crucial defensive intervention before he was hooked, along with a bunch of others.

The raft of substitutions symbolised the almost irrelevant nature of the game and there was certainly no evidence to suggest the Dyke clock was a good idea.

But the England time might just have arrived for Gallagher.

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