England take the show on the road as Eze pushes for a start – talking points

England take the show on the road as Eze pushes for a start – talking points

England host North Macedonia at Old Trafford on Monday night looking to maintain their perfect start to their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

Gareth Southgate’s side have taken a stranglehold on Group C after a comfortable victory over minnows Malta on Friday.

Here, the PA news agency look at some of the major talking points ahead of England’s final fixture of the season.

Halfway house

The visit of North Macedonia marks the midway point of England’s quest to qualify for the finals in Germany next summer.

Heading into the game, the Group C favourites sit six points clear at the top having already recorded victories over Ukraine and Italy before easing past Malta.

A win against North Macedonia would complete a clean sweep of their group opponents at the halfway point and see Southgate’s side close in on securing their place in December’s draw.

Alexander-Arnold a natural

Despite being regarded as one of Europe’s best right-backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold has had to be patient in his attempts to lock down a regular place in the England squad – let alone the starting XI.

The Liverpool defender, however, shone in a midfield role in the win over Malta and said the position felt “natural” to him.

Sterner tests await but, with Southgate enthused by his display, Alexander-Arnold could become a mainstay in the middle of the park for England.

Eze does it

Eberechi Eze (left) replaces team-mate James Maddison to make his England debut
Eberechi Eze (left) replaces team-mate James Maddison to make his England debut (Nick Potts/PA)


Eberechi Eze became the latest senior England international as he came off the bench to replace James Maddison in the latter stages of the routine win in Malta.

It was fine reward for the 24-year-old following a purple patch at Crystal Palace and now he will be pushing to make his first start.

Released by Millwall in 2016, it would mark a meteoric rise for Eze, who has a long-term admirer in Southgate.

Treble trouble for North Macedonia

Jack Grealish (left), Kalvin Phillips (centre) and Kyle Walker (right) are all in contention to play for England
Jack Grealish (left), Kalvin Phillips (centre) and Kyle Walker (right) are all in contention to play for England (Nigel French/PA)


The Manchester City contingent within the England ranks were named on the bench in Malta, with just Phil Foden playing any minutes.

Having been involved in the Champions League final less than a week earlier – and the ensuing celebrations – Southgate opted to keep Kyle Walker, Kalvin Phillips, John Stones and Jack Grealish in reserve.

That may not be the case at Old Trafford, however, with the City quintet wanting to end a memorable season on another high.

On the road

England v Hungary – UEFA Nations League – Group 3 – Molineux Stadium
Gareth Southgate during the UEFA Nations League match at the Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton. Picture date: Tuesday June 14, 2022.


The trip to Old Trafford marks England’s first game on home soil not to be staged at Wembley since the humiliating 4-0 Nations League loss to Hungary a year ago.

Molineux was the venue for that shock scoreline on June 14, 2022 as loud jeers and chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” echoed around Wolves’ stadium.

Old Trafford is a more familiar setting for England games but Southgate will hope the result – and the reception – will be a much more positive experience this time out.