Gareth Southgate praises youngsters as Sunderland duo help England Under-21s to victory

Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate
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Jordan Pickford and Duncan Watmore helped England Under-21s to victory over Portugal in the Toulon Tournament.

And boss Gareth Southgate felt his side were deserved winners as they got the tournament off to the perfect start.

Jordan Pickford in action for Sunderland

Jordan Pickford in action for Sunderland

It took a second-half goal from Lewis Baker to secure three points in Group B in windy conditions in the south of France and Southgate was pleased with the way his players adapted to the situation.

"I thought we were the dominant side, we passed the ball really well on what is a very difficult pitch and windy conditions, especially in the first half when we were playing against the wind.

"We managed to find some good solutions when we were playing out from the back and we had the best chances in the game so it was definitely a fair scoreline.

"This is a tournament where pitches are a bit sticky, which leads to quite a lot of collisions, duels and fouls so there are lots of decisions for referees to make and this is one of the best learning parts of the tournament for our players.

"They’ve got to try and avoid bookings if they can and keeping eleven men on the field is important so we showed experience in doing that."

Pickford, Watmore & Co now have a three day break before the next fixture against Guinea in Six Fours on Monday.

Southgate added: "We’ve a bit of time to prepare for the next game but we’ve got to be conscious that the load after that is quite heavy.

"We’re going to give as many people as possible some game time, but also still stay strong and keep some stability in the team."