From Maguire to Winks: Which England Hopefuls might Make the Plane to Russia?

London – 1) Butland hardly tested but should stay second choice

Despite having made his England debut in August 2012, Jack Butland had to wait three years for his competitive bow and another two to double the tally when lining up here. England qualified for Russia 2018 on Thursday so here was invaluable game-time for the 24-year-old Stoke City goalkeeper. Yet the contest gave Butland scant chance to show he can be relied upon. The man most likely to dislodge Joe Hart watched an early Fiodor Cernych shot carefully, then gathered a later one with ease. This was all that was required until just after the half-hour. Then, he dealt with a Kieran Trippier backpass by booting it towards halfway. On 54 minutes Butland did make a crucial save, though, by stopping Michael Keane scoring an own goal. Butland is next in line after Hart, ahead of Fraser Forster, Jordan Pickford and the injured Tom Heaton, and competitive action will have done his confidence no harm.

2) West Ham’s Cresswell can deliver a set piece

Inside five minutes Aaron Cresswell made an impact by hitting a cross in from the left that landed plum on Harry Maguire’s head and which should have led to the opener. A later free-kick from the right again showcased Cresswell’s ability to strike a ball as the defender spun in a cross that posed the Lithuania defence a question. The West Ham United defender had been handed a third cap and chance to further his claim for a World Cup berth in a defence that featured three centre-backs. In this the 27-year-old operated at left wing-back, a demand familiar to him as his club manager, Slaven Bilic, uses the system. Cresswell was near faultless and when pushing ahead suggested he can be a factor: a second-half header forced Ernestas Setkus into a sharp save. Ryan Bertrand and Danny Rose – who is injured – are ahead of him, while Luke Shaw and Ashley Young may also change Gareth Southgate’s mind.

3) Winks tidy but may be too late to join the party

Harry Winks could be proud of a first taste of senior international football as the 21-year-old offered a tidy all‑round midfield display. The Tottenham man often roved forward to link though on occasion his control let him down. Winks’s first contribution in an England shirt was to beat Vykintas Slivka with some slick footwork. Later he combined with Marcus Rashford but the latter ball watched. Next came an illustration of Winks’s energy as he raced back to break up a Lithuania attack. While he came close to a first England goal early in the second half, the challenge he faces comes from those players ahead of him in Gareth Southgate’s thinking. Winks was only drafted into the squad after Fabian Delph dropped out. The Manchester City midfielder, Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier, Adam Lallana, Jake Livermore, and even a consistently fit Jack Wilshere are those whose claim is stronger.

4) Maguire’s dream could take him all way to Russia

Harry Maguire’s debut came close to a dream start five minutes in as the central defender lurked near Setkus’s goal. Yet when Cresswell delivered the ball where the Leicester City man – an ever-present this season – wanted it, Maguire spurned the header. But accomplished defending is his prime concern, and at this the 24-year-old was largely reliable on the left of Southgate’s trio of centre-halves. Yet it was his error that allowed Lithuania to turn defence into attack and which led to Keane nearly scoring an own goal after the interval. Earlier he made amends for the missed header by initiating the attack from which Harry Kane opened the scoring. It was Maguire’s clever dinked ball to Henderson from which Dele Alli won the penalty, converted by Kane. Again, though, competition is fierce. Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, John Stones, and Keane are those who are ahead in the reckoning.

5) Trippier gives it his all in quest to be on the plane

One of four Tottenham players in the XI, Kieran Trippier made an uneven start but he improved as the contest developed. After winning their first corner the 27-year-old allowed Vytautas Andriuskevicius to find a cross from which Darvydas Sernas flashed wide of Butland. This was followed with a diagonal ball that was intercepted and he later failed to get close enough to Sernas. From here, though, Trippier began hustling better and was a constant outlet along the right, though he was not always noticed by team-mates. When he was – by Kane, just after the latter’s penalty – Trippier used the ball aptly by moving it inside quickly to Winks. This second England appearance ended as a note to Southgate that he is worth consideration. With Kyle Walker first choice, Trippier’s competition appears to be only Nathaniel Clyne, who is injured, and perhaps a left-field option, like Manchester United’s Ashley Young.

The Guardian Sport