Five things we learned from the international break ahead of the Euros

England came through a busy March international schedule with three victories out of three in World Cup qualifying.

They defeated San Marino and Albania last week, before recording a 2-1 win over Poland at Wembley on Wednesday thanks to Harry Maguire’s late strike.

Gareth Southgate’s side are not currently scheduled to play again until their Euro 2020 campaign gets underway against Croatia on June 13.

Here’s five things we learned from the international break, with the Euros now on the horizon:

Rice and Phillips in the same team?

Declan Rice Kalvin Phillips Euros
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One question going into the international break was whether Southgate would opt for two defensive midfielders in the same team.

And with news breaking partway through the fixtures that Jordan Henderson could miss out on the Euros through injury, that question became even louder.

But the Poland game provided us with some answers. Southgate went with Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips in midfield, and both men featured for the whole 90 minutes.

Rice was arguably England’s standout performer on the night. He broke up play and made driving runs forward through the centre of midfield.

And with Phillips starting all three World Cup qualifiers during the international break, the pairing seems to be the preferred route for Southgate.

Walker impresses

Kyle Walker Euros
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You could argue that the competition for England’s right-back spot is as fierce as it has ever been.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier and Reece James all hold genuine claims for the position, whilst James Justin may have been in the discussion had it not been for his season-ending knee injury.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is still the fold too, though has reportedly discussed the idea of switching his international allegiance to DR Congo.

Kyle Walker is another name on that list. It was the City defender who started two of the three qualifiers. He particularly impressed against Poland.

Southgate has experimented with playing Walker on the right of a three-man central defence in the past, but right-back is his most natural position. That spot seems to be his to lose right now.

England revert back to a four-man defence

Harry Maguire Euros
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The outstanding club form of John Stones appears to have offered one solution to a major dilemma for Southgate. During the international break, England utilised a plan B to the three at the back formation they have almost exclusively used in recent years.

Stones and Maguire formed a two-man central defensive partnership in the Poland victory. And apart from a Stones error that led to the visitors’ equaliser, they both looked solid.

They even combined at the other end, with Stones heading down for Maguire to lash in the winning goal late on.

Mount continues to prove his worth

Mason Mount Euros
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This season has seen a real breakthrough for Mason Mount in terms of his England ambitions.

His cap against Poland was his eighth consecutive start in an England shirt. The Chelsea midfielder is comfortable in the ball, gets in good positions and knows where the goal is as well.

Add that to the fact that he seems to be improving game on game, and with the backing of both Southgate and Blues boss Thomas Tuchel, expect the 22-year-old to play an important role at the Euros.

Pope cemented as England’s number two

Nick Pope Euros
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What was made clear in the international break is England’s goalkeeper hierarchy.

Nick Pope played in each of the three World Cup qualifiers, and seemingly has at least the number two spot nailed down going into the Euros.

He wasn’t called into action on many occasions during the three games, with his distribution probably the slightly weaker area in comparison to regular England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

With both Pickford and Pope both certainties to be in the Euros squad this summer, it will be interesting to see who is selected as the third goalkeeper.

Featured Image Credit: Getty