Gareth Southgate‘s task(s) at hand have been anything but a walk in the park during his 14 months as England manager (as an aside, the England job has never been an easy one, for anyone), but the 47-year-old can be quite pleased with what he’s achieved thus far.
Having qualified the Three Lions for the 2018 World Cup as one of four sides (Germany, Spain and Belgium) to finish qualifying without a loss, Southgate’s focus is now fully fixed on next summer’s tournament in Russia. As such, the current international break has provided England’s former U-21 boss a golden opportunity to bring a number of peripheral players into the squad to make their case, and Southgate sure is making the most of it.
Friday’s draw with defending world champions Germany saw eight non-regulars feature for England, prompting Southgate to bring an additional trio of youngsters into camp ahead of Tuesday’s clash with another heavily favored side, Brazil.
21-year-old goalkeeper Angus Gunn (Manchester City, on loan to Norwich City) was brought in on Friday to replace the injured Jack Butland (broken finger). On Saturday, Southgate announced the arrivals of Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke and Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook, both 20 — and both of whom starred during England’s recent U-20 World Cup triumph, as top goalscorer and captain, respectively.
These are, clearly, the perks of qualifying during the initial round and avoiding the playoffs altogether. While other nations battle for their place in Russia, Southgate has been afforded an extra month — and two more fixtures — as he begins to assemble his 23-man squad. The three players added this weekend are, admittedly, long shots at this point, but their progression from youth to senior setup is undoubtedly an encouraging sign.
Phil Jones has also withdrawn from the current squad after suffering a thigh injury against Germany.
A week after Manchester City struggled to finish on net, the torrid Gabriel Jesus returns to the lineup as the Citizens travel to Middlesbrough at 9:05 a.m. ET live online at NBCSports.com.
Jesus scored three goals in five Premier League appearances after arriving in the winter, but broke a bone in his foot and faced a long spell on the sidelines. He is back from injury and starts alongside Sergio Aguero in the City attack. Raheem Sterling drops to the bench as Pep Guardiola produces a flat 4-4-2 to fit both attackers in the formation.
City is also now forced to play with Willy Caballero in goal after Claudio Bravo was injured in the Manchester derby. On the bench to back up the goalkeeper is 21-year-old Manchester City youth product Angus Gunn.
For Middlesbrough, they were forced into a change as Fabio comes into the lineup in place of the injured Daniel Ayala who drops out with an ankle problem. Gaston Ramierz was reportedly available for selection after missing the win over Sunderland due to suspension, but he does not appear in the lineup or on the bench.
Boro has served as City’s boogey team in the past, without a win in their first 14 Premier League meetings, but they have turned that around, with wins in four of their last seven against Boro.
Manchester City beat Borussia Dortmund on penalty kicks at Shenzhen Longgang Stadium in China as Pep Guardiola picked up his first win as City’s manager and both teams completed their 2016 International Champions Cup campaigns with a 1-1 draw in regulation.
On a pitch which cut up badly, Dortmund started brightly but after a raft of changes at half time City were the better team in the second half as Guardiola gave plenty of his more experienced players a run out.
One of those players grabbed the goal as Sergio Aguero tapped home a flowing move 12 minutes from time to hand City their first goal of preseason but right at the death 17-year-old U.S. international Christian Pulisic — who came on at half time and impressed on the right flank — slotted home to make it 1-1 and send the game to penalty kicks.
Young goalkeeper Angus Gunn saved three spot kicks as City eventually won 7-6 on penalties.
City now have just one more preseason game before they being Guardiola’s debut season in the Premier League, as they play Arsenal in a friendly in Sweden on Aug. 7.
A shaky start for City saw goalkeeper Willy Caballero give the ball away and Ousmane Dembele was clean through but Nicolas Otamendi blocked his shot brilliantly.
Jesus Navas then raced up the other end and picked out Fabian Delph but he scuffed his shot wide. Emre Mor curled a shot just wide and Dembele blasted an effort miles over the bar after another bad giveaway by City as Dortmund’s high-pressing was catching out their defense.
During a first half water break Guardiola barked orders at several of his players including Ukrainian winger Oleksandr Zinchenko who looked bright in spots. Despite looking more dangerous, Dortmund couldn’t break through and right on half time Kelechi Iheanacho had a great chance after good build up play but Roman Burki saved well from close range.
Wholesale changes took place at half time with U.S. national team starlet Christian Pulisic coming on for Dortmund who made a host of changes. Man City brought on Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and David Silva at half time with some of their big-hitters getting some minutes under their belts.
With all the changes the game was disjointed but City looked the more likely to take the lead.
Wilfried Bony, another half time sub, looked bright as he turned and hit a shot on goal which was saved and then cleared. Aguero then smashed an effort over the bar as City pushed hard for their first win, and goal, of preseason so far.
Silva then set up Bony on the edge of the box but he smashed another effort just over the bar, while late on Gonzalo Castro went clean through but drilled his effort over.
Aguero’s goal then arrived and it was a beautifully worked team goal.
Young center back Tosin Adarabioyo sprayed a long ball out to former New York City FC left back Bersant Celina and then Aleix Garcia combined with Silva on the edge of the box and the latter slotted the ball across to Aguero to tap home.
Dortmund had a strong shout for a penalty kick in stoppage time as Shinji Kagawa went down but then Pulisic popped up to slot home with the last kick of regulation after City switched off from a short corner.