England continued their unbeaten post-World Cup run and finished strong after two tough tests in a week. After defeating Lithuania at Wembley on Friday, Roy Hodgson's side faced a friendly against a solid Italy side at the Juventus Stadium.
This game provided England boss Hodgson with a chance to experiment with his line up. The experimentation saw Kieran Gibbs come in for Leighton Baines at left-back, Phil Jagielka join Chris Smalling at centre-back, with Phil Jones being moved into midfield alongside Fabian Delph and Jordan Henderson. Wayne Rooney dropped into the number 10 role behind a front two of the returning Theo Walcott and in form front man Harry Kane.
Pre and post match, a lot has been said about Jones in the holding role, with a great deal of negative criticism towards the young United star. He was involved in Italy's goal as he let Giorgio Chiellini come inside from a wide position and provide a cross for Graziano Pelle to head in the opening goal.
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The United man is inexperienced in this position and it was a tough ask to be thrown in at the deep end against a strong Italian midfield. He was without an established midfield partner as well as Jordan Henderson and Fabian Delph are still fairly new to the England international side. He was moved back into centre half just before half time due to an injury to Phil Jagielka.
Harry Kane, fresh off scoring on his debut for the senior side, was kept quiet by a tough Italian defence; the approach to the young striker was shown after only 20 seconds when Chiellini put in a strong challenge in on the Spurs man to introduce him to the game.
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Another United man was involved in the second half revival for England with the introduction of Michael Carrick helping to take hold of the midfield. He brought a better passing range and calmer presence than Jones and started to pull the strings for England from the centre of the park.
Ryan Mason was given his debut with Hodgson making a number of late changes. The man who stole the show, however, was Andros Townsend after coming off the bench. A lot was said about Townsend's selection in the squad before the game and his late equaliser will help to silence his critics.
After a close fought game, a draw was probably a fair result. Both teams had chances with Joe Hart and Gianluigi Buffon making some good saves for their respective sides. This result will further boost English confidence as they continue their qualification journey for next year's European Championships.
What did you think to the game and what would your ideal England line up be? Let us know in your comments below.
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