The draw between England and Italy revealed four things about Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans.

On Saturday night, England and Italy drew 0-0 in their Nations League match, failing to avenge their defeat in last summer’s Euro 2020 final.

As a result, despite creating several clear-cut chances against Roberto Mancini’s side, the Three Lions remain in last place in their group. It wasn’t just England, though, who were able to create opportunities.

In the first half, Sandro Tonali of AC Milan had the game’s best start. Tonali was waiting for Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s cross after he broke free down the right flank, but Aaron Ramsdale’s legs saved his strike.

Raheem Sterling had England’s best chance, but his effort from within the five-yard box flew way over the bar. Gareth Southgate will take a lot of positives from his team’s performance, but there was also a lot for fans to take away ahead of the World Cup in Qatar this winter. Take a look at the Daily Star Football…

Southgate line-up hits back at critics

Southgate’s team selection suggested that he has full faith in his decisions following two underwhelming performances recently. Former Middlesbrough manager Steven Pressley appears to have abandoned his tried-and-true 3-4-3 formation in favor of the 4-2-3-1, which he believes brings out the best in his players.

“Look, I’ve got to find a balance because I don’t want to sit and be defensive, but some people have managed teams and others haven’t,” the manager said earlier this week, in response to criticism that his side hasn’t been creative enough recently.

“Of course, for the man who comes and sits on the terrace and pays his money, I completely understand that he wants to see a Grealish with a (Raheem) Sterling, with a (Bukayo) Saka…but this is top-level football, and you have to have a team balance.”

Southgate’s decision to stick with his formation reflects his faith in the system and the importance of having two holding midfielders, even if it means sacrificing a world-class attacker.

Mason Mount a key ingredient for England

Despite his goal drought, Mason Mount continues to play for England.

With Southgate’s attack reshuffled, Chelsea playmaker Mason Mount was one of only six players to keep his place in the starting XI. During the international break, the midfielder has started all three games, indicating that the manager has complete faith in the 23-year-old.

Mount had a good season with the Blues, scoring 11 goals and providing 10 assists, but he has struggled to replicate that form on the international stage. However, in his last 13 appearances for the Three Lions, the 23-year-old has failed to score and has only managed one assist.

Mount, who can play as a central midfielder, a number ten, or a winger, is a versatile option. However, England has plenty of options in those positions, and if he continues to struggle to influence games in the final third, questions about why Southgate keeps starting the Chelsea academy graduate will be raised.

Ramsdale poses Pickford question

Ramsdale made a number of excellent saves against Italy.

In only his second appearance for England, Ramsdale made a big impression. The Arsenal goalkeeper’s save from Tonali was one of the game’s most crucial moments, keeping Italy in the game.

Even when he has been out of form at Everton, Jordan Pickford has been a consistent starter for England under Southgate. Ramsdale’s performance, on the other hand, will undoubtedly cause the manager to pause.

When in possession and looking to play out from the back, Pickford appears to be the more capable option, though Ramsdale’s shot-stopping ability has drawn the most attention this season. Southgate’s no. 1 for the World Cup has yet to be determined, and Saturday’s match will not have helped him make his decision.

Bowen is now a regular

Jarrod Bowen came off of the bench late on

Jarrod Bowen’s call-up to England was long overdue, but the fact that he has played in all three of their recent games suggests he will be a regular in the future. Down the right flank, the West Ham midfielder added pace and energy, willing to drive at his man and deliver an early cross.

The 25-year-old, who has recently been linked with Liverpool and Arsenal, has yet to score his first goal for the Three Lions, but he looks set to get more chances in the future. Bowen is a versatile final-third option who can play as a winger or striker, and he has a different spark than the England regulars.

It’s unclear whether Bowen will be trusted to start games at the World Cup, but he has shown that he can be a valuable influence off the bench in Qatar.

Micheal Kurt

I earned a bachelor's degree in exercise and sport science from Oregon State University. He is an avid sports lover who enjoys tennis, football, and a variety of other activities. He is from Tucson, Arizona, and is a huge Cardinals supporter.

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