France boss Didier Deschamps has praised centre forward Olivier Giroud’s “strength of character” after he ended his international drought with a superb volley in Sunday’s 2-1 Nations League triumph against the Netherlands.
Giroud, 31, lashed in a second-half cross from Manchester City left-back Benjamin Mendy at Stade de France to seal the win.
The Chelsea man had failed to score when his nation succeeded at World Cup 2018. But he’s now moved ahead of legendary playmaker Zinedine Zidane into fourth place in Les Bleus’ all-time top-scorers list.
Watch Deschamps’ reaction below.
Balotelli, 28, has been drafted back into the Azzurri set-up by his long-term mentor after four years away.
But the enigmatic Nice star came in for renewed criticism after a listless 62-minute run-out in Friday’s 1-1 Nations League stalemate with Poland.
Watch how Mancini reacted when quizzed about the player he handed an Internazionale debut to and bought for Manchester City.
Jordan Henderson is confident Marcus Rashford can continue making strides with England and help fill the void left by Jamie Vardy.
With Vardy having stepped away from the international scene following the World Cup and Raheem Sterling injured, Rashford returned to the starting XI in the Nations League defeat to Spain.
The 20-year-old put the Three Lions ahead at Wembley with his fourth international goal but was twice denied by Manchester United team-mate David De Gea in the second half as the visitors sealed a 2-1 win at Wembley.
“We all know how talented Marcus is,” said Henderson.
“His was a great finish. He had another one or two chances that maybe he would have liked to have scored but I thought he looked sharp.
“He was lively and he’s always a threat on the counter-attack. He’s a fantastic young player so he just needs to keep learning, keep improving. He’s a big part of our team.”
Vardy’s decision to effectively retire at the age of 31 – he has indicated he would help in an emergency but has otherwise called time – drew a typically measured response from manager Gareth Southgate.
It has, though, left England short of established senior strikers. Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck was the only centre-forward available from the bench on Saturday night and the likes of Dominic Solanke and Tammy Abraham have not progressed as hoped since being capped by Southgate.
Reflecting on Vardy’s decision, Liverpool skipper Henderson admitted to an element of surprise.
“Yeah, a little bit,” he said. “I know Vards and he’s a robust player. He’s always fit and does not get many injuries. Obviously you’ve got to respect his decision.
“He spoke with the manager and he felt that was the best thing for his career at this moment in time.
“We have got plenty of other good strikers. Welbs came on and he’s been doing fantastically well in training, so hopefully it gives them an opportunity now.”
England will be particularly eager to get back to winning ways when they welcome Switzerland to the King Power Stadium in Tuesday’s friendly.
They were afforded a hero’s homecoming at Wembley, in recognition of their run to the semi-finals of the World Cup but – having lost in the last four to Croatia and to Belgium in the third-place play-off – a positive result is now overdue.
“We still feel confident, but we still feel like we are learning. You want to play against the best teams and the best players to learn from the experiences,” said Henderson.