Gareth Southgate admits he faces some “serious decisions” after a much-changed England beat Costa Rica 2-0 in their final match before heading to the World Cup.
Marcus Rashford scored a brilliant goal in the 13th minute and substitute Danny Welbeck added a second late on as England secured a comfortable victory at Elland Road on Thursday night.
England now travel to Russia where they face Tunisia in their Group G opener on June 18.
Having made 10 changes for the game against Costa Rica, manager Southgate said: “It’s more difficult and we have some serious decisions to take, but in a good way. If I was thinking I have nobody to play here or there, it would be a very different situation. We asked the players to give us competition for places and they’ve done that.
“I’m really pleased with tonight, to make 10 changes and maintain fluidity was great.
“I think the general patterns and defensive side of the game was good, movement of the ball was good, we looked a threat. We had energy, the first goal was a wonderful, wonderful strike.
“If I look at the three weeks we’ve had, I couldn’t be happier. If you look at the adversity they’ve faced, it’s brought them closer.”
Southgate was particularly pleased with the performance of Rashford, who was England’s standout player, especially in the first half when he caused Costa Rica’s defence plenty of problems.
“For me at the end of the season, he cares so much you can see he was trying too hard,” he said. “I did say I expect to see mistakes. If you don’t, then you aren’t trying too hard.
“The goal was world class but he’s teasing defenders – he was enjoying his football which is great to see. I’ve got 11 or 12 who are going to be difficult to leave out, that’s what I said to the players.
“There is genuine competition for places. It wasn’t first team against Nigeria and second team today. We have quality across the two line-ups. [Fabian] Delph as a number eight is different to Dele [Alli] as a number eight.”
Along with Rashford, Ruben Loftus-Cheek staked his claim for a starting role at the World Cup with a solid performance.
Southgate said: “I think that we’ve changed the way we play so it allows different players to come in. Ruben is a terrific talent but he’s still learning the game but he has so few games he’s still raw but we believe in him. He’s a super exciting talent and he’s different to the players we have.”