England’s Striking Duo Emulate Serbia in Euro 2024 Prep

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Watkins and Toney Step into Serbian Shoes

In an intriguing behind-the-scenes glimpse into England’s tactical preparations for Euro 2024, strikers Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney have been playing the roles of Serbian forwards. This strategy was part of the build-up to England’s nail-biting 1-0 victory over Serbia, with Jude Bellingham securing the win with a decisive header.

Southgate’s Pragmatic Approach

England manager Gareth Southgate maintained his trademark pragmatism throughout the match, making substitutions that were directly like-for-like. This tactical decision meant that neither Watkins nor Toney saw playing time, as Harry Kane remained on the pitch for the full game, continuing to overshadow the striking pair.

The Struggle for Game Time

With Kane’s dominant presence in the team, Watkins and Toney have found opportunities limited. Their main contribution in Germany has been to challenge the England defence in training by imitating the Serbian team, rather than developing any on-pitch partnership with Kane.

Training Ground Realities

When questioned about playing alongside Kane, Aston Villa’s Watkins revealed the focus in training has been on tactical plays, with no opportunity to form an attacking partnership with the England captain. “It’s normally me and Ivan pretending to be Serbia,” Watkins explained, sharing a light-hearted comparison of their roles to Serbian players Mitrovic and Vlahovic.

Watkins’ Ambition to Partner with Kane

Despite the limited chances, Watkins expressed his desire to play with Kane, citing the successful dynamic Kane had with Son Heung-min at Tottenham. He believes he could replicate that relationship, given Kane’s ability to drop deep and play incisive passes, much like he did with Son. However, Watkins also acknowledges the wealth of talent England has in the attacking midfield role.

Warm-Up Contributions

Both Watkins and Toney have had their moments in England’s warm-up matches leading up to the tournament. Watkins started in the win against Bosnia and Herzegovina, demonstrating the depth of England’s attacking options as they continue their quest for European glory.

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