James Tarkowski can cope with this level - England boss Gareth Southgate
England boss Gareth Southgate felt debutant James Tarkowski proved he belongs at international level after impressing against Italy.
Though the Clarets centre back gave away a controversial late penalty after a VAR review, the 25-year-old delivered a confident display on the left of a back three.
He remains an outside bet for a World Cup berth, but got the nod ahead of Swansea City’s Alfie Mawson to start against the Azzurri, and took his opportunity.
Asked what he had learned about this international period as a whole, including Friday’s 1-0 win in Amsterdam against Holland, Southgate said: “I don’t think we’ve seen things that have necessarily surprised us, but there’s been some really strong performances from individuals that have cemented, not their place in the squad - 19/20 of those were pretty clear, it’s often who are the next ones in if we get a problem in a particular area.
“It was really good to see James Tarkowski tonight, we’ve got people we feel can play in a back three, and have done well, but he showed he can cope with international football, against good opposition.
“He was very comfortable on the ball and played some really calm moments.”
England were on target for a sixth-successive clean sheet, which would have been record-equalling, before Tarkowski accidentally caught Federico Chiesa’s foot, after the ball had gone, with the substitute already on his way down.
Southgate was pleased with his side defensively: “I’m very pleased, generally we defended well. At times, from a couple of crosses the marking was poor, but we were pretty compact as a team.
“In any system there are slight weaknesses, you have to cope with those, and Italy got into those areas and we dealt with it pretty well.
“We probably just lost a little bit of rhythm with the changes, which we needed to make. And with John (Stones) going off as well, we lost that little bit of cohesion towards the end.
“But I’m really pleased with the two games.”
And on the decision to hand Italy a late penalty to earn a 1-1 draw, taken after using VAR, Southgate admitted: “Well, it is what it is, we have to accept the ruling. I think in this instance, my only observation would be that I don’t think it’s clear and obvious. They are two areas for improvement, it generally is the right way to go.
“I prefer the referee’s decision is final, because it’s sport and we shouldn’t be talking about how much money it’s cost or lost, but if we are going to go with technology, then I think it’s the right thing to do.
“It has to be only clear and obvious, and there has to be a better way of communicating with fans.
“At least tonight they knew something was going on, but ideally there is clearer communication for those in the stadium, when those at home have a better idea of what’s going on, I’m not sure that’s the right thing.
“But if we’d have had it in Holland, I think we’d have had a penalty, and probably a red card for the opposition after two minutes, so you will benefit from some decisions and not from others.”