The big impact made by Newcastle United's Callum Wilson on his England comeback
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The Newcastle United stirker unselfishly set up a goal for Jack Grealish just 13 minutes into his first international game in more than three years today as England convincingly beat Iran 6-2 in Doha, Qatar.
And club-mate Kieran Trippier also put in an assurance 90-minute performance at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Trippier had gone into the tournament knowing he was Southgate’s first-choice right-back in the absence of the injued Reece James because of his defensive solidity.
However, the 32-year-old, playing ahead of Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold, spent the game on the front foot. Trippier was calm, confident and composed, and he also showed leadership and took the armband after Harry Kane’s withdrawal.
Trippier was involved more as the game progressed. He linked with his team-mates as Bukayo Saka, ahead of him, started to get into the game following a lengthy early stoppage.
And then, in the 32nd minute, Trippier delivered a corner from the right for Harry Maguire, which the defender headed against the crossbar.
Jude Bellingham opened the scoring three minutes later with a header from a left-wing cross. Saka made it 2-0 late in the half, and as England’s players celebrated the winger’s strike, Trippier, sensibly, was with referee Raphael Claus as he was confronted by Iran players claimed that Maguire had committed a foul when he headed a corner down. Raheem Sterling made it 3-0 in added time.
Wilson was sent out to warm up after Kane took a knock after the break, but England’s captain was able to continue. So too was Trippier after his right foot was trod on.
Saka scored a fourth, and the introduction of Wilson was initially delayed by an injury to Maguire, who was forced off. Substitute Marcus Rashford netted a fifth before Wilson eventually replaced Kane.
The game was long won by the time the striker made his first England appearance since October 14, 2019.
And it didn’t take Wilson long to make an impact. The 30-year-old, set free by the excellent Bellingham, broke forward and rolled the ball to fellow substitute Grealish.
There are bigger World Cup challenges ahead, and England will be frustrated at the two goals they conceded, but it was a case of so far, so good in Doha.