Gareth Southgate hailed the impact of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jack Grealish after the England new boys’ role in their 3-0 win over Wales.
Calvert-Lewin, who has already scored six times in four Premier League games this season, got his debut England appearance off to a perfect start by meeting Grealish’s cross to open the scoring after 26 minutes, while the Aston Villa captain was a livewire for most of the game and especially shone when moved into a free role before half-time.
“In terms of accomplished debuts, I thought [Calvert-Lewin] looked very much at home,” Southgate said after the game. “He has done all week, frankly.
“He’s not looked nervous in any way. I think the fact he’s playing well for his club, they’re top of the league, there couldn’t be a better moment to bring him into the set-up. He will, I’m sure, take a lot of confidence from tonight.
“He’s in such a good moment, his all-round game was excellent. He pressed with intelligence, he held the ball up and connected the game. He won the flick-ons for every long ball, which we should have capitalised on a bit more, and the goal is the thing which sends centre-forwards home really happy.”
Southgate revealed he had spoken to Grealish about getting into areas such as the one from which he provided Calvert-Lewin’s opener, and said the 25-year-old can offer something different to England’s other inside forward players like Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho, who both missed Thursday’s game.
“Jadon and Raheem have the ability to dribble and beat people, but he does it in a different way,” he said. “He’s very comfortable receiving under pressure, I think the area he got into for the goal that he created, is where he should aim to be more regularly.
“You want a player of his ability in and around that final third as much as you can. He’s good at receiving deep, but I keep stressing to him that they’re the areas of the game where he can make the difference, and he did that tonight. I’m very pleased for him.”
Giggs: Moore injury a ‘blow’
Kieffer Moore had proved a dangerous focal point for Wales before being forced off five minutes before half-time when failing to shake off the ill effects of a collision with England goalkeeper Nick Pope.
Wales boss Ryan Giggs is concerned about the Cardiff forward’s hopes of playing in his country’s Nations League double header in Ireland and Bulgaria over the coming week.
“We won’t know until we get a scan on how he is,” Giggs revealed. “I thought he was a handful tonight, a real threat. The game changed with the goal, and when Kieffer went off, we lost that target.
“Also on set-pieces, where we conceded two bad goals, he’s a big part of that, defending set-pieces. So it’s a blow, but we’ve got other options as well.”
Despite Wales falling to their first defeat in 15 months, Giggs stressed his satisfaction with how his side had started at Wembley, with Wales by far the better side before England’s opening goal.
“There were a lot of good things. We started the game really well, and the things we worked on, we did well,” he said.
“The pressing was good, and we were confident on the ball, which you have to be against quality teams. Then, we learned that, if you switch off or give bad goals away, you’re going to get punished. Against lesser teams, you might get away with it. Against the good teams with quality, you’re not going to get away with it.
“The first goal was disappointing because it was soft and then the set pieces after that, where, usually we’re really strong, but we just went to sleep on them.”
Giggs also confirmed Aaron Ramsey, who missed Thursday’s friendly as a result of a member of Juventus’ staff testing positive for coronavirus, would be a part of their squad to face the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on Sunday.