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England vs Lithuania – Five things we learned from the World Cup Qualifier

Monday 27th March 2017
Gareth Southgate's side managed to overcome a potential banana skin following a 2-0 victory over Lithuania in the Group F fixture of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers; and here's five things we learned from the match at Wembley.

1- Michael Keane is international class

It was another fine performance from the Burnley centre-half in a match where on paper, he should not have had much to do.

However, the former Manchester United youngster showed some glimpses of how he is comfortable on the ball, with a few excellent passes and tackles made during the match.

You still would expect John Stones and Gary Cahill to be England's first choice centre-half pairing, but Keane's performances during the week will leave much optimism in the Three Lions camp.

2- Adam Lallana is still proving to be so important

Granted that he did not have his best game in an England shirt, the Liverpool playmaker was still one of Southgate's side's better players.

Contributing with an assist for Jamie Vardy for his nation's second of the afternoon, Lallana played off the striker and was involved throughout with nice intricate passing and touches.

There's no doubting that the former Southampton man is certainly one of the first names on the team-sheet at present.

3- Jermain Defoe is still capable of playing regularly for England

Whilst he did not touch the ball many times during his 60 minute cameo for England, the Sunderland striker still managed to find himself on the scoresheet when he converted the opener after great work from Raheem Sterling.

After It's Round and It's White suggested the former Tottenham and West Ham man should be given another opportunity in an England shirt, Defoe certainly took it.

The aim now for the 34 year-old is to continue scoring goals for his club side in the Premier League with the view to play regularly for Southgate's team.

4- Ross Barkley continues to be under-used.

Without any minutes during this week's international break, one might be confused as to why the Everton attacking midfielder was not used at all by Southgate for England.

With Dele Alli clearly tiring, there were signs that maybe Barkley could come on for some action before full-time, but it was not to be.

It seems a huge waste at present, especially given his form for the toffees in recent weeks. Barkley must have been disappointed he was not given the opportunity to show what he can do.

Hopefully, he will continue to impress at his club side and be selected next time.

5- There are still signs of ‘pedestrian football'

After the impressive performance in the 1-0 defeat to Germany, there were certainly signs of a platform to build on for Southgate and his men but Sunday's victory suggested otherwise.

It was not until Marcus Rashford's introduction in the second-half when England seemed to up a gear in terms of pace and aggression.

There were small glimpses with runs from Sterling and Lallana but given the opposition it would be nice to see England be a bit more confident and aggressive.

Nonetheless, a win is a win. Let's hope that the training and building of squad can give Southgate new avenues to explore come the next time England gather themselves for an international fixture.
Greg Stubley
Greg graduated with a first in Sports Journalism from the University of Brighton in Summer 2016 and has already managed to gain experience in the industry, working for companies such as Charlton Athletic and talkSPORT. Greg is currently the regular commentator on Charlton's "CAFCPlayerHD" service, bringing full-match live commentary along with Terry Smith of Addicks' games up and down the country for subscribers to listen.

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