Gareth Southgate’s England, of course, returned to action a short time ago.
As part of the opening round of Nations League fixtures, the Three Lions made the trip to Budapest, for a Group C meeting with Hungary.
The evening’s visitors headed into proceedings with their sights set firmly on all three points, as preparations for this year’s World Cup in Qatar continue to ramp up.
When all was said and done, though, England were brought back down to earth with something of a thud.
This came as a toothless display culminated in Southgate’s troops being put to the sword by a goal to nil, owing to a 2nd-half penalty on the part of Dominik Szoboszlai.
— Fast Football Goals (@fastfootygoal) June 4, 2022
Turning attentions towards individual performances at the Puskas Arena, how, then, did England’s latest pair of debutants fare on Saturday?
Check out our assessments below.
Amid widespread calls for wide-man Bowen to be afforded a first-ever senior call-up to the England setup, precisely that was forthcoming for the 25-year-old late last month, on the back of a scintillating campaign in London with West Ham.
Facing competition from Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka, though, few would likely have predicted Bowen to be thrown straight in from the off by the powers that be in the Three Lions camp.
And yet, at the Puskas Arena, a starting berth is precisely what the talented attacker was on the receiving end of.
Taking his spot in a customary role on the left, Bowen was tasked with providing support to Harry Kane, flanked on the opposite wing by Chelsea’s Mason Mount.
2010 – England have named at least two West Ham players in their starting XI (Declan Rice & Jarrod Bowen vs Hungary today) for the first time since March 2010 vs Egypt (Matthew Upson & Robert Green). Hammers. pic.twitter.com/zz87hOiDxG
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 4, 2022
And, for the most part, the Hammers star did his best towards precisely that.
Albeit whilst looking far from his rampaging best, and lacking when it came to final ball, Bowen, across stretches of the 90 minutes, represented England’s biggest (and at times only) threat.
One dancing burst to the endline, following by an inviting pull back across the face of goal, probably should have resulted in the visitors opening the scoring late in the first-half, whilst a quick piece of thinking on the other side of the interval unleashed Harry Kane into a rare promising position through the heart of Hungary’s midfield.
The 25-year-old will also be frustrated post-match not to have marked his international debut with a goal, after directing a left-footed volley straight into the body of Peter Gulacsi from point blank range.
Such openings will need to culminate in goals before long, should Bowen be hopeful of carving out a regular starting berth for himself with England.
It must too be noted, though, that his influence faded considerably as proceedings wore on, as the former Hull City standout appeared to run out of legs, putting something of a dampener on what had previously represented a solid showing.
Still, on a night which saw his side struggle as a whole, and the result prove far from what the doctor ordered, Bowen can be at the least content with an outing that will give boss Southgate something to think about moving forward.
Match rating: 5.5
Leicester City star Justin proved more of a surprise inclusion not only in England’s latest Nations League squad, but too in Southgate’s starting XI to face Hungary.
Amid a dearth of natural left-sided options in his squad, England’s boss opted to make use of Justin’s talents in a wing-back role, slotting in behind the aforementioned Mount.
All told, though, it proved something of an evening to forget for the 24-year-old.
Looking nervy from the off, Justin was guilty of needlessly surrendering possession on more than occasion early on, giving rise to presentable opportunities for the hosts.
He also struggled in efforts to come to grips with the ever-involved Loic Nego on Hungary’s right flank, too often caught in no man’s land between defence and midfield.
Justin, to his credit, did grow into the exchanges as the first-half wore on, finding his feet in linking with focal point Harry Kane. And yet, his right-footedness, through no fault of his own, at times hampered England’s bursts forward, with Justin keen to cut inside onto his favoured foot time and time again, eliminating an outside threat.
This is not a criticism of James Justin specifically, but you can’t play this back three system and have a right footer at left wing-back.
— Grace Robertson 🏳️⚧️ (@GraceOnFootball) June 4, 2022
Not only that, but rounding out an underwhelming maiden display in the colours of his country was the Leicester star being hauled off at the interval, after picking up a fitness issue late in the opening 45 minutes.
Justin will enjoy considerably more productive nights on the international stage, should his England chance not have passed him by once and for all in Budapest.
Match rating: 4