Gareth Southgate urged patience with Jadon Sancho as the England winger continues to find his feet at Manchester United.
Sancho moved to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund over a summer which also saw him racially abused after missing a penalty in England’s shootout loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
The 21-year-old has struggled to make an impact since joining United, with England boss Southgate admitting his form this season was not worthy of an international call-up.
But he included Sancho in his squad to show his “belief” as the forward, who then started the 5-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Andorra on Saturday night.
Although against inferior opponents, Sancho provided two assists in a strong 72-minute performance.
“It wasn’t easy for a winger in the game because very often you get the ball with two, sometimes three very close defenders,” Southgate said.
“So you have to pick the right time to throw the ball and the right times to support yourself to maybe take out one or two of those players and I thought he had done it exceptionally well a few times.
“It’s important that he gets the assist because you also need to have that productivity and the right pass or cross at the end of those passages.”
Southgate has confirmed he has taken the time to speak to Sancho since the team gathered in St George’s Park on Tuesday and supported him to show his form in the weeks to come.
“We shouldn’t be surprised that for a young player to have such a big change in his life, a new league, a new club, a different style of play, a different training regime, a return to Manchester, a move and whatever is involved in that is a lot to take into account, ”he added.
“So it’s going to take time but he showed a lot of the qualities he has [against Andorra] and I know that will come with the club as well. “
Someone else who clearly appreciated Sancho’s abilities was veteran Andorra defender Ildefons Lima.
The 41-year-old made his record 132nd appearance for his country as a first-half substitute against England, but limped just 32 minutes later after apparently pulling his hamstrings while chasing Sancho .
The comfortable victory against a struggling Andorran side keeps England on track to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
The victory in the Pyrenees extended their journey to 28 unbeaten World Cup qualifiers and Southgate was pleased with the way his whole squad handled their job at the Estadi Nacional.
“I think these matches historically for the English teams have been difficult nights,” he added.
“I sat at home and watched some of them. What I love about this group is that whatever the challenge, whatever environment they’re placed in, they make no excuses.
“We found a way to win the games and we used the ball really well. We showed good discipline because one of the ways the opponent has a chance is to bring you down to 10 men and there were a lot of hot spots where we could have reacted badly.
“Overall we did it well. But the quality of our game was really good and we chose a team to of course manage the whole team, but also with a profile of players in certain positions. which we knew well suited to placing between their defensive midfield and also good in wide individual situations.
“I am really happy with both the quality and the application of all the players.”