England went into the international break in yet another state of transition, with interim manager Gareth Southgate becoming the latest to attempt the most high profile job in English football after Sam Allardyce’s departure.
Matches against Malta and Slovenia bought four points and two indifferent performances, but who were the winners and losers over the two games?
After some disappointing performances at Euro 2016 over the summer, Hart was due a big performance with his place in the starting XI under serious examination.
He was predictably untroubled against Malta, but was the sole reason England left Slovenia with a point on Tuesday, making a series of world-class saves including a miraculous claw off the line from Jasmin Kurtic’s header.
Great performance Joe Hart!!#MOM
— David Seaman (@thedavidseaman) October 11, 2016
Hart rewarded Southgate’s faith and may even have kept his manager in the frame to succeed Allardyce on a permanent basis.
Looked composed at centre-half in both matches and was the only England defender to leave Slovenia with any real credit.
Stones played the ball well from the back and made some trademark surging runs forward, displaying the benefits of Pep Guardiola’s influence at Manchester City.
Despite injury ruling him out of the squad, Kane has come out of this international break looking secure in his position up front.
Daniel Sturridge may have scored against the minnows of Malta, but he drew criticism for roaming from his position too often and over-playing when on the ball.
Daniel Sturridge has so much talent, but sometimes he can’t see beyond his own game. Which is an elaborate way of saying he can be selfish.
— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) October 11, 2016
He was fairly anonymous in Slovenia and squandered two reasonable opportunities on a night when chances were at a premium for England; on this evidence Kane will be straight back into the team when fit.
Southgate inexplicably started with the Arsenal man on Saturday and Tuesday but withdrew him after little more than an hour of play in both matches.
“All the fuss about Walcott this season… I don’t get it.”
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) October 12, 2016
Walcott has been in decent form at club level but this may the final nail in the coffin for his international career.
His pace is nullified by poor footwork, an inability to beat a man and a complete lack of first touch, all of which should now see him disposed of as a starter for his country.
Another poor performance against Malta saw the captain dropped for the Slovenia match in what may be the beginning of the end for England’s record goal scorer.
He came on with 20 minutes remaining on Tuesday night but had little impact, firing a shot wide and wasting a number of set-pieces.
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) October 11, 2016
The general consensus seems to be that it is time to move on from England’s reliance on a man who just isn’t the player he once was.
The Chelsea man was widely considered lucky to be picked for his country after a shocking start to the season at club level.
He was untested against Malta but looked a liability in Ljubljana and should now be replaced on a more permanent basis by Manchester United’s Chris Smalling.