Rio Ferdinand questions why two England stars didn't play against Serbia

rio ferdinand questions why two england stars didn't play against serbia

Ferdinand wanted to see more of two players (Picture: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Rio Ferdinand believes the introduction of Kobbie Mainoo and Cole Palmer earlier on would have given England greater control after their underwhelming Euro 2024 win over Serbia.

Jude Bellingham’s superb header after 13 minutes gave the Three Lions the lead in their group opener on Sunday night and looked hungry for more in a dominant first-half.

Their grip on the contest loosened in the second-half however with Serbia growing into the game – with Jordan Pickford forced into a superb late save on to help his side hang onto the win.

Conor Gallagher came on with 20 minutes left to try and help his side regain control with Mainoo also summoned from the bench with 86 minutes on the clock.

Chelsea star Palmer did not get on the pitch with former Southampton and Ajax star Dusan Tadic shining for Serbia off the bench as they chased an equaliser.

Pondering why England couldn’t make changes that delivered a similar impact, former Manchester United and England star Ferdinand questioned why Mainoo and Palmer didn’t have a bigger role to play.

‘The game needed a bit more control,’ Ferdinand told BBC One at full-time.

rio ferdinand questions why two england stars didn't play against serbia

Mainoo came off the bench late on (Picture: UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

‘Where are the players that can do that? Kobbie Mainoo maybe yes, [come on] a bit earlier if need be.

‘But also someone like Cole Palmer who has got that bit of swagger and arrogance to say give me that ball. The way Tadic came on for Serbia, he came on and said give me the ball, I will be that outlet for you guys’.

Cesc Fabregas meanwhile was left unimpressed with England’s second-half showing, suggesting a more attacking-minded change by Southgate would have delivered a different message to the team.

‘If you send the message in putting in a defensive midfielder or an extra defender to cover the result, you will as a player feel it,’ Fabregas said.

‘Mentally you start going back, dropping more. But instead if you put an offensive player, Palmer let’s say, up the pitch and controlling the ball in the final third, I think the players get so much more comfortable.’

England continue their group campaign against Denmark on Thursday evening.

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