England got their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a perfect start after thumping San Marino 5-0 at Wembley.
But with their opponents’ rock bottom world ranking, manager Gareth Southgate saw the fixture as the perfect opportunity to give his fringe players a chance to give him a few selection headaches heading into this summer’s European Championship.
With the exception of Ben Chilwell and Raheem Sterling, who are established first-team stars for the Three Lions, Sportsmail looks at Southgate’s stars from the Wembley triumph and asses their chances of making the cut for Euro 2020.
England’s fringe players largely impressed in their 5-0 win over San Marino at Wembley
Manager Gareth Southgate is still considering his team to feature at Euro 2020 this summer
The bad news for Nick Pope is despite playing in a side that earned a clean sheet and a victory, he had very little to do apart from ruminate about the meaning of life inside his penalty box for the entire game.
While this is not a surprise given the nature of opposition, it also meant we learned absolutely nothing new about his capability between the sticks at international level. The good news is you won’t be able to name three better English goalkeepers right now, so while he gained little he’s lost nothing.
VERDICT: Certain for the squad
Nick Pope had little to do in the World Cup qualifier but is still a good bet to make the squad
One of the big winners of the evening. There was a fair argument recently that Reece James was only the fourth best right-back in the country behind Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier.
But in their absence for varying reasons, the Chelsea star did what was expected of him in his 45 minutes on the pitch, laying on an excellent crossing assist for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score. From fourth choice to a reasonable contender to start, but competition is fierce in that area of the pitch.
VERDICT: In gang of four mix
Chelsea’s Reece James stepped up to strengthen his claim for a spot at right back at Euro 2020
James’ 45 minutes has put pressure on Trippier to keep up his international form, despite having enjoyed a solid season at Atletico Madrid.
In a second half where England largely relaxed he wasn’t able to outshine James yet he has credit in the bank with Southgate and rarely lets his country down. Not certain for the squad but would still be a surprise omission to leave him out now.
VERDICT: Under pressure but still in Euro plans
Kieran Trippier came on at half-time to replace James as he looks to maintain his squad place
Back in the squad after a sensational season with Manchester City and while this was not the night for defenders to make their case in forcing Gareth Southgate’s hand, it’s yet another clean sheet for the centre-back.
In truth, England could be short of natural centre-backs in the summer and as long as Stones keeps up his incredible form for City he is almost certain to retain his place from now to the summer.
VERDICT: Here to stay
Another clean sheet would not have harmed John Stones of retaining his place after a recall
Kept it simple, did little wrong and that was all that was needed from the Wolves man earning his fourth cap.
The centre-back looks like he has earned Southgate’s trust, and his ability to play in a back-four and a back-three makes him a highly useful asset when it comes to picking a squad.
VERDICT: Sensible squad pick
Conor Coady’s versatility in the defence could see him book a place in Southg’ate’s squad
Mings could be the casualty following Stones’ recall having earned six of his eight caps since October.
Unfortunately 45 minutes at centre-back against San Marino is not the scenario a player needs to prove his worth to make a finals squad, even if the Aston Villa defender did little wrong.
VERDICT: Work to do to make squad
Tyrone Mings did little wrong but could get lost in the shuffle when the final squad is picked
A shock call up last September but in the sink of swim environment he has impressed Southgate enough to have become a regular starter.
In the team to protect the defence, his job was highly redundant but he kept it professional. Reputation though could see the more established Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson get the nod ahead of him.
VERDICT: Did little wrong, but needs to show more
Kalvin Phillips enjoyed another solid run-out but will still need to impress to reach Euro 2020
Granted it’s only San Marino but even in 45 minutes the Chelsea midfielder put in a display that Southgate cannot ignore when he chooses his squad this summer.
Mount created eight clear cut chances, which is the most by any player at international level since Xavi for Spain 13 years ago. Now that’s a sales pitch. Over to you Jack Grealish…
VERDICT: Enhanced starting XI chances
An excellent creative display in the first half has all but secured Mason Mount a Euro spot
Considering he was not anywhere near the England squad during the last round of international matches after being left out of Manchester United’s first team, it shows just how well the midfielder has impressed since joining West Ham on loan.
He provided an assist for Calvert-Lewin and was unlucky not to score himself. It looks like his recall will come too late to trouble the more established forwards but BettingExpert have reduced his odds of making the Euro 2020 squad from 9/4 to 6/4.
VERDICT: Great return but could be too late
Jesse Lingard looked lively on his return to England duty after impressing with West Ham
England have an abundance of talent when it comes to attacking players so it was crucial for Ward-Prowse not to go missing against San Marino when given a chance.
He took his opportunity well, scoring the opening goal and going close to adding another in a tidy display. He’s been part of the squad since September now and having also played under Southgate in his Under 21 days can be considered a trusted by the manger, but will that be enough? His odds have dropped from 11/4 to 7/4.
VERDICT: Enhanced chances
James Ward-Prowse made the most of his audition by scoring the opening goal for England
The in-form Manchester City star replaced his team-mate Sterling at half-time and set up Watkins’ goal seven minutes from the end.
This was no audition though for Foden though, he is already one of Southgate’s main picks and is continuing to rebuild his reputation having been sent home in disgrace from the squad after breaching Covid protocols along with Greenwood late last year.
VERDICT: Nothing to prove, he’s in
Phil Foden looks like he has earned Southgate’s trust again heading into the summer
Just 17-years-old and he was widely praised for his second half appearance, with many now suggesting he should keep his squad place for the Euros.
The question though is who do you leave out? England are not short of attacking stars who have already proven their worth to Southgate against much more credible opposition. He’s one for the future certainly but this tournament could come too soon for the Borussia Dortmund side. His odds though of making Euro 2020 have dropped from evens to 10/11.
VERDICT: Euro 2020 could come too soon
Jude Bellingham came off the bench to make a lively cameo appearance for England
Southgate is expected to take five forwards to the Euros, and four of them look certain in Sterling, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.
That leaves one spot to fill and right now Calvert-Lewin appears to be in the driving seat for it. The Everton striker was guilty of missing chances, but among his two goals he advertised his aerial ability, something Southgate doesn’t have strength in depth when it comes to attacking players.
VERDICT: In pole position for squad.
Two goals have put Dominic Calvert-Lewin in an ideal spot to claim an attacking position
Given half-an-hour to impress on his England debut and marked it with a goal to cap off a perfect night for the Aston Villa striker.
He is battling Calvert-Lewin, Tammy Abraham, and Mason Greenwood for what is likely one spot, so while this won’t have earned him a spot in the squad for the finals it may keep him in Southgate’s long term plans.
VERDICT: Took his chance but Euros unlikely
Ollie Watkins enjoyed a dream England debut after scoring as a substitute late on