Joe Cole singles out England player for praise after ‘unacceptable’ Italy defeat


Bellingham was England’s best player, according to Cole (Picture: Getty)

Joe Cole has labelled England’s performance against Italy as ‘unacceptable’, insisting Jude Bellingham was the only player to offer some hope for Gareth Southgate’s side.

The Three Lions fell to a 1-0 defeat at the San Siro on Friday, a result that saw them relegated from their Nations League group with a woeful run of form extended with the World Cup in Qatar now looming large.

England have now gone three games without a goal for the first time since November 2000 and are on a run of 495 minutes without a goal in open play since Raheem Sterling netted against the Ivory Coast in March.

Gareth Southgate’s side take on Germany in their final Nations League match on Monday before they open their World Cup campaign against Iran on 21 November.

Former Chelsea star Cole believes the current squad are facing the same problems that have befallen England sides of the past, believing not enough players are willing to pick up and the ball and drive towards the opposition.

He did however praise Borussia Dortmund star Bellingham who showed moments of class in Milan.

‘It is the same problem that surfaces a lot with England, we have to be braver,’ Cole told Channel 4.

England boss Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate’s side are back in action on Monday (Picture: Getty)

‘These lads have got the ability, we have seen it week in, week out they are top drawer players. Puff your chest out, push your shoulders back and go and get on the ball in difficult positions.

‘Drive through the lines. Jude Bellingham, a 19-year-old, was our best player tonight and that’s unacceptable with the quality we have got because we have got the ability.’

Despite the toothless performance, Declan Rice insists the squad does not have a problem creating chances and is confident goals will come in Qatar.

‘It’s obviously disappointing. Every tournament we go into, we set out to win. In the Nations League we have slipped below our standards but I didn’t think it was all bad tonight.

‘It’s coming. It was a much better performance tonight than we saw in the summer.’

He continued: ‘It’s not that we’re not creating the chances. I see it in training. There are goals for fun. Trust me, we are going to be good.’

MORE : ‘He knows what we think of him’ – Gareth Southgate hits out at ‘big agenda’ against Harry Maguire following England inclusion

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