Paul Stewart column: Three Lions have roared again

Raheem Sterling jumps for joy after opening the scoring in Seville
Raheem Sterling jumps for joy after opening the scoring in Seville

What a win! How can the victory in Spain not dominate this week’s column?

I have openly admitted that as a national team England are still not the finished article, but I have also said that given time Gareth Southgate will nurture this group of players into a real force.

One cannot help but be complimentary at the way Raheem Sterling ended his long goal drought for his country.

After 27 games and only four shots on target, he was rewarded with a brace which, I think you will agree, he deserved after a good World Cup campaign.

This will strike fear throughout the Premier League as I think this added confidence will really reap rewards for Manchester City.

Marcus Rashford, who, it has to be said, has delivered at international level with three goals in four games, may well find himself a regular in a stuttering Manchester United side and that can only be good for the national team.

I have stated that we are short of a midfield player of the quality of Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne and Gareth himself has publicly admitted this.

But his selection of Ross Barkley was bold, certainly considering the midfielder has been unable to hold down a regular first-team place at Chelsea since his move from Everton.

But I do feel that he has that ability to unlock defences and offers something extra going forward.

The front three, two of whom I have already mentioned, are a threat to any international team’s defence, and the captain Harry Kane proved he is not just all about goals.

He assisted Sterling and Rashford for their goals with great awareness and hold-up play.

Like many others, I am still concerned that without enough rest this campaign may find Kane struggling with fatigue and, if Spurs are not careful, a long-term injury.

Jordan Pickford in goal has shown enough to have made the number one shirt his own, even though he made basic errors on Monday that could have led to goals, one in particular.

But we can forgive him this as he is still young and he was one of the standout goalkeepers at this year’s World Cup.

We have an abundance of talent in the wing-back area. Kieran Trippier, from my old club Spurs, is a constant threat raiding down the right, with Kyle Walker from Manchester City an ideal back-up, who is also adept as a three.

It is comforting to see that we can adapt to a flat back four but we are equally comfortable playing with three – an issue which I think has dogged previous England squads.

Harry Maguire has certainly been the revelation of the season.

Manchester United must now wish they could have brokered the deal in the last transfer window.

His play reminds me of Terry Butcher and Tony Adams – assured and commanding, and I’m sure a future captain.

The praise must, however, be heaped upon the manager Gareth Southgate.

I had the pleasure of playing in a young Palace team which Gareth captained at the tender age of 24.

He was the consummate professional and a born leader.

He handles himself with dignity and doesn’t get carried away with the hype.

I reiterate that given time he may take this group of players to the next level.

Patience I know is a virtue but I would urge the press, the FA and the public to give him the chance to develop the team and his own role as manager.

If that patience is shown, I’m sure he will deliver a national team we can be proud of. Well done, Gareth!