By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer
Bukayo Saka got absentee-hit England’s Euro 2020 preparations off to a winning start against Austria but all eyes will be on Trent Alexander-Arnold after his late injury.
Having whittled his 33-man provisional squad down to 26 players on the eve of Wednesday’s friendly, Gareth Southgate’s side triumphed as they played in front of fans for the first time in 18 months.
Saka’s debut goal was the difference in England’s 1-0 victory against fellow Euros outfit Austria, but the main talking point after the match will be Alexander-Arnold limping off late on in Middlesbrough.
— England (@England) June 2, 2021
Southgate’s men will return to the Riverside Stadium for their final warm-up friendly against Romania on Sunday, when the England will be hoping there will be no repeat of the jeers that met players taking the knee.
There were around 7,000 in attendance as England fans got to see some new stars for the first time, with Jack Grealish, Saka and 17-year-old full debutant Jude Bellingham looking bright.
Harry Kane had the best chance of the first half and 19-year-old Saka kept his cool to put the Three Lions into a deserved lead early in the second period.
Jordan Pickford spared debutant Ben Godfrey’s blushes and got the slightest touch as Marcel Sabitzer struck the crossbar on a night that Southgate was unable to call on Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea players.
There were some hairy moments defensively and the night ended with widely-discussed right-back Alexander-Arnold hobbling off.