England drew 1-1 away at North Macedonia in Skopje on Monday, needing a second-half own goal to preserve their unbeaten record in qualifying for Euro 2024.
Enis Bardhi had put the hosts ahead with 41 minutes gone after Rico Lewis was harshly penalised by VAR for catching Bojan Miovski with a stray arm, with Bardhi tapping home the rebound after his initial penalty was saved by Jordan Pickford.
An own goal from Jani Atanasov levelled for England, but though they pressed for a late winner, their hosts held on to earn a point against one of Europe’s elite sides.
It is a result that leaves Gareth Southgate with plenty to think about as he looks to pick a squad ready to go and win next year’s tournament in Germany.
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Jordan Pickford – 7/10
It was a quiet night for Pickford bar the penalty, where he was unlucky, having saved Miovski’s initial effort, only for the ball to come straight back to the Trabzonspor man to turn home the rebound.
Pickford is undoubtedly Southgate’s number one, and it would take a shocking turn of events for the Everton man not to be between the sticks for England’s opening match of Euro 2024.
Kyle Walker – 6/10
Captaining England for the first time, Walker was solid on what will have been one of the proudest nights of his career.
He did everything he was asked to down England’s right, and Southgate knows he can rely on the Manchester City man.
Harry Maguire – 5/10
Maguire looked a little shaky in possession, giving the ball away on a number of occasions, including a heart-in-mouth moment in the first half when he sloppily gave away possession before seemingly bundling over Elif Elmas.
The referee decided not to give a penalty, and Maguire went on to have a decent game, working well with Guehi to keep the hosts pretty quiet going forward.
Marc Guehi – 7/10
Guehi again played well in a Three Lions shirt, and he will have done his chances of being a potential starter at the Euros no harm.
It will be interesting to see how he does for England against better opposition, but he has so far done pretty much all that has been asked of him by Southgate.
Rico Lewis – 7/10
Making his England debut at just 18, the day before his 19th birthday, Lewis looked like he belonged with an energetic display.
He was hugely unlucky for the penalty, and he kept his chin up to fare well on his maiden England appearance, getting forward and looking defensively sound.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5/10
This was a performance that will have Southgate desperate for Kalvin Phillips to get some first-team football under his belt before Euro 2024 to give England another midfield option.
Alexander-Arnold was poor, giving the ball away on a number of occasions. The Liverpool man received a booking in the second half for a frustrated reaction to a throw-in, an act that largely summed up his game.
Declan Rice – 7/10
Rice must be wondering when his first England goal will finally come having been unlucky to see a strike disallowed against Malta before hitting the post with a long-range effort against North Macedonia.
That aside, Rice was great in midfield, breaking up play and offering his team a driving force to get his team up the pitch. He is surely Southgate’s best holding midfielder.
Bukayo Saka – 8/10
The winger was lively as always, offering England a much-needed injection of pace into their attacks on a number of occasions and looking a real threat down the right.
He was unfortunate not to end the game with an assist having teed up an offside Grealish to finish, and Saka is one of England’s key attacking threats ahead of the Euros next year.
Phil Foden – 6/10
Playing in a central position, Foden showed flashes but never really took the game by the scruff of the neck to try and break through a stubborn North Macedonia backline.
A player with Foden’s talent and creativity could have done more, and Southgate will be keen for him to have more of an impact in future.
Jack Grealish – 6/10
Much like Foden, Grealish never really dominated the game and looked frustrated at times with the roughhouse tactics of the hosts.
He will have better games, he will have worse games, though that can be said of so many of England’s players as they huffed and puffed against a North Macedonia side they smashed 7-0 at home.
Ollie Watkins – 6/10
It was a frustrating night for Watkins, who managed just 11 touches before he was hauled off in the 58th minute for Kane with England losing.
He is still competing to be number two behind Kane, though he will be hoping to put in a better performance next time he puts on a Three Lions shirt to boost Southgate’s confidence in him should Kane be unavailable for any reason.
— England (@England) November 20, 2023
Harry Kane – 7/10
Kane’s importance to England is so large, it is almost concerning for Three Lions fans, as he again proved his significance by making an instant impact off the bench here, playing a big part in the equaliser and looking lively over the rest of the game.
Kane is one of the world’s best players, and while it is great to have him, it does beg the question of who can even begin to replace him if for some reason he was unavailable for the Euros.
Kalvin Phillips – N/A
He only came on in the 84th minute with England pushing for a winner, so there wasn’t a huge amount of time to make any impact.
Phillips urgently needs to play first-team football, and Southgate choosing to start Alexander-Arnold in midfield for both games of this international break should press home that fact.
Marcus Rashford – N/A
Rashford also came on with just six minutes left, going close with a decent free-kick in the latter stages.
A fit and confident Rashford is a scary prospect, but whether Southgate will have that to call upon in Germany next year is hugely uncertain as of this minute.
Cole Palmer – N/A
There just wasn’t enough time for Palmer to make an impression, though his performances with Chelsea will provide hope that he can become an England regular by the time Euro 2024 comes around.
The former City man is supremely talented and could offer Southgate a real option off the bench if needed at the tournament in Germany next year.