Trent Alexander-Arnold shows he has the vision to start alongside Declan Rice, writes OLIVER HOLT after Liverpool star's sublime volley in England's 3-0 win over Bosnia

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A game of hints and suggestions gave Gareth Southgate a few clues and plenty of encouragement 13 days from the start of England’s Euros campaign, but little in the way of concrete solutions.

The most intriguing part of the evening came in the performance of Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who finally got the chance to play in central midfield, alongside Conor Gallagher, and ended up giving a man-of-the-match performance.

Like the majority of his teammates, Alexander-Arnold had a quiet first half but the range of his passing was often breathtaking and he became more and more influential. Time and again, he played passes that unlocked the Bosnia-Herzegovina defence.

A few minutes from the end, Alexander-Arnold scored England’s second goal with a sublime volley to cap a performance that staked a claim for a starting berth alongside Declan Rice in the game against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday June 16.

Much depends on where Southgate decides to play Jude Bellingham, who was absent last night after playing his part in winning the Champions League with Real Madrid on Saturday at Wembley.

Trent Alexander-Arnold made his case to be in Gareth Southgate's starting XI at the European Championships later this month

Trent Alexander-Arnold made his case to be in Gareth Southgate's starting XI at the European Championships later this month

Trent Alexander-Arnold made his case to be in Gareth Southgate's starting XI at the European Championships later this month

The Liverpool star's precise volley doubled England's lead against Bosnia late on at St James' Park

The Liverpool star's precise volley doubled England's lead against Bosnia late on at St James' Park

Cole Palmer marked his full England debut in style with his first goal for the Three Lions

Cole Palmer marked his full England debut in style with his first goal for the Three Lions

Harry Kane came off the bench to bundle in England's third goal and his 63rd for the Three Lions

Harry Kane came off the bench to bundle in England's third goal and his 63rd for the Three Lions

If Bellingham starts for England in the 10 role where he has excelled for Madrid, then there would be a strong argument for using a player with the passing range of Alexander-Arnold alongside Rice in front of the England back-four.

Eberechi Eze and Cole Palmer also impressed in the first half but this was an England starting line-up that included only two or three – Jordan Pickford, Kieran Trippier and Alexander-Arnold – of the players likely to start against Serbia. 

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Palmer, with a penalty, and a late goal from substitute Harry Kane, completed the scoring for England.

England may have taken most satisfaction from the fact that none of their players were injured. That is the thing to be dreaded at this stage of the build-up to a major tournament but that apart, the result probably did more to boost Bosnia-Herzegovina’s confidence than England’s.

The visitors had lost their past four matches before this encounter, including a 4-1 thrashing by Luxembourg last November. For a team that ranks below Northern Ireland, Uzbekistan and Jordan, this was something of a triumph.

The Saudi Arabia national side might have made St James’ Park its second home after the Gulf state bought Newcastle United, and plenty of regional loyalty, but it was 19 years since England last played here, in a World Cup qualifying tie against Azerbaijan in 2005.

England won that game ahead of a previous major tournament in Germany and last night, a capacity crowd acted as if it were making up for lost time before kick-off with a deafening roar at the end of the national anthems to greet an inexperienced England side that featured six players with fewer than 10 caps in its starting team.

Eberechi Eze staked his claim to make the final 26-man squad and was the England's best performer in the first half

Eberechi Eze staked his claim to make the final 26-man squad and was the England's best performer in the first half

England were without several key players for the fixture. Pictured: (L-R) Anthony Gordon, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Bukayo Saka

England were without several key players for the fixture. Pictured: (L-R) Anthony Gordon, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Bukayo Saka

Gareth Southgate started with an experimental line-up for the friendly against the European side

Gareth Southgate started with an experimental line-up for the friendly against the European side

Alexander-Arnold was on the ball straight away, lifting a delicate pass over the visiting defence and into the path of Ollie Watkins, who allowed it to run away from him. Jordan Pickford set pulses racing in a different way, picking out a Bosnia- Herzegovina midfielder with his first pass.

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Alexander-Arnold started well. He drifted another ball out wide to Eberechi Eze and then zipped a pass into the feet of Cole Palmer, who controlled it, turned and played it into Watkins, who got his shot away but could not find the target.

The game fell flat for 20 minutes after that and did not drag itself out of its torpor until Eze electrified it with a jinking run from just inside the opposition half to the edge of the area, which ended with an Ezri Konsa shot being saved by Nikola Vasilj.

England were hardly irresistible but they looked at their most threatening when either Eze or Palmer was on the ball. Too often, though, they looked like a team exhausted at the end of another long season.

Five minutes before half-time they were even a little fortunate not to fall behind. Marc Guehi gave the ball away deep in the England half and when it fell to Haris Hajradinovic, his goalbound shot was deflected wide by Alexander-Arnold.

The Liverpool man started the second half as he had begun the first, curling a delicious ball over the top of Bosnia-Herzegovina back line into the path of Watkins. Watkins stretched for it and swung his right foot at it but could not make contact.

Ezri Konsa was pulled down in the penalty area shortly before the hour resulting in a spot-kick for the home side

Ezri Konsa was pulled down in the penalty area shortly before the hour resulting in a spot-kick for the home side

Referee Rohit Saggi pointed to the spot after reviewing the melee in the penalty area that resulted in Konsa hitting the turf

Referee Rohit Saggi pointed to the spot after reviewing the melee in the penalty area that resulted in Konsa hitting the turf

Palmer maintained his perfect record from the penalty spot this season with the effort

Palmer maintained his perfect record from the penalty spot this season with the effort

The game was more fluid now and Jarrod Bowen raced away down the right and cut back a cross for Palmer, who turned inside man but saw his shot blocked at close range by a defender. England had increased the tempo.

It felt as if a breakthrough were coming and 10 minutes after the interval, Konsa was dragged to the ground in a melee at a corner. After a VAR check, the Norwegian referee awarded a penalty and, even though the goalkeeper got a hand to it, Palmer dispatched it coolly into the bottom corner.

It was Palmer’s first goal for his England and his last action in the game. The penalty was followed by a rash of substitutions. Kane, James Maddison, Jack Grealish, Jarrad Branthwaite and Adam Wharton all came on.

Kane’s presence, inevitably, increased the urgency in attack. The England captain pursued his usual policy of shooting on sight and forced a couple of saves out of Vasilj as England sought a second goal.

Alexander-Arnold unlocked the visitors’ defence with another raking crossfield pass that fed Grealish but Grealish’s pass to Maddison was slightly overhit and it cost England the chance of a second goal. Maddison could only aim a weak shot at goal. 

Kane showed no sign of easing up after a phenomenal debut season with Bayern Munich at club level

Kane showed no sign of easing up after a phenomenal debut season with Bayern Munich at club level

Southgate, who handed a debut to Crystal Palace youngster Adam Wharton (right) has only one game left to assess his squad before trimming it down to 26 for the Euros

Southgate, who handed a debut to Crystal Palace youngster Adam Wharton (right) has only one game left to assess his squad before trimming it down to 26 for the Euros

Alexander-Arnold got the reward his play deserved five minutes from time when Grealish floated a ball across the area and the Liverpool player volleyed it across goal with sumptuous technique so that it eluded Vasilj’s right hand and nestled in the far corner.

Gallagher might have had a third when he burst through but his shot well saved. England would not be denied, though, and a goalmouth scrambled ended with Kane forcing the ball over the line to give the scoreline a pleasing sheen.

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