Ronald Koeman said it was a "fantastic" achievement by Netherlands to secure a place at Euro 2020.

A goalless draw with Northern Ireland in Belfast clinched a top-two finish in Group C qualifying for Netherlands, no matter how unspectacular their performance was at Windsor Park on Saturday.

Koeman was a key player in the Netherlands team that won Euro 88 in West Germany, but now he is pulling the strings from the touchline as head coach.

On a testing night, the one-time stylish centre-back admitted he settled for a stalemate before the end, which is why he introduced substitute defender Nathan Ake late on in place of striker Ryan Babel.

It did the job, as Netherlands reached their first tournament since the 2014 World Cup, having failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

"As a team, we always want more and better, but we have achieved a great result by qualifying for the European Championship," Koeman told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

"We've done it in a group with great opponents like Germany and a tricky opponent like Northern Ireland. I also just want to say that it is fantastic that we have qualified."

Netherlands were unconvincing, and with Memphis Depay absent through injury they struggled to make an impression in attack.

Babel was perhaps their biggest threat, but that was only because Steven Berghuis did not look up to the task. Steven Davis missing a penalty for Northern Ireland was a blessed relief to the visitors.

Yet like his captain Virgil van Dijk, who expressed similar sentiments, Koeman was chiefly concerned about getting the job done.

The draw sufficed, and Koeman, who took on the Netherlands job in February 2018, said: "I am happy and proud of the team. I also think you can now forget how tonight's game went."

He admitted Netherlands "should have done more attacking-wise", but it did not appear to trouble him unduly. There is time to look for solutions now the Dutch are sure of their place at the 24-team tournament.

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who moved from Ajax to Barcelona in the close season, is relishing his first senior finals with Netherlands.

"We haven't played a final tournament for a while, so everyone is happy," De Jong told NOS. "We have taken a photo together and we are certainly happy that we made it. I don't think we should be too critical, but I feel we should have won here."

De Jong added: "We did too little with the ball; attacking-wise we could have done more. But we're going to the European Championship and that is the most important thing."

Toni Kroos acknowledges Germany are lacking experience and could not be considered Euro 2020 contenders as things stand, although he is not writing off their chances.

Germany qualified for a record 13th European Championship with a 4-0 defeat of Belarus in Monchengladbach on Saturday.

Matthias Ginter broke the deadlock at the end of a frustrating first half, before Leon Goretzka doubled the hosts' lead and then Kroos struck twice.

The scoreline belied some of the difficulties the 2014 world champions faced, though, reliant on Manuel Neuer to make three fine saves - including from Igor Stasevich's penalty.

Joachim Low has disposed of a number of senior men since a poor 2018 World Cup, and Kroos, one of the remaining established stars, sees there is work to do for a young group.

"We are still lacking a little bit in experience, but certain procedures are working better and better," he said, as reported by UEFA.com.

"We will know where we stand shortly before the tournament. Currently, I would not count us amongst the top favourites. But that doesn't always mean anything."

Like Kroos and Neuer, Ginter was central to the victory, having a hand in the second and third goals after scoring the opener at Borussia-Park, the home of club side Borussia Monchengladbach.

The smart flick was Ginter's first strike for his country, prompting comment from Neuer that it was "about time".

"His first Germany goal tonight? Well, after 29 games, it is about time," Neuer said. "No, he did very well to score in style."

Ginter added: "Scoring a goal like this as a central defender - that goes to show that nothing is impossible. Manu is right - after 29 games, it was about time.

"Scoring here in Gladbach is the icing on the cake."

Captain Virgil van Dijk said Netherlands would enjoy the moment after qualifying for Euro 2020.

The Dutch ended their self-inflicted exile from major tournament football, having failed to reach Euro 2016 or last year's World Cup, when a 0-0 draw away to Northern Ireland secured a top-two finish in Group C.

Netherlands were without the injured Memphis Depay and carried little threat up front in his absence, while Northern Ireland's Steven Davis missed a first-half penalty that would have ramped up pressure on Ronald Koeman's men.

But in the end the visitors secured the primary objective for the night - the certainty they will be in next summer's 24-team European Championship.

Van Dijk, who won the Champions League with Liverpool last season, told Dutch broadcaster NOS: "We're going to a tournament again. That's the most important thing.

"We wanted to win today and we had chances. We knew it would be difficult but in the end we qualified - how doesn't really matter very much.

"In the last 15 minutes, Northern Ireland started to play more directly, hoping for free-kicks and corners. It was up to us to stay sharp and we did very well at times.

"We are going to the European Championship, let's just enjoy it now. We will prepare ourselves well for that."

Northern Ireland can still qualify by the play-off route, while Netherlands appear likely to finish as group runners-up behind Germany, whom they trail by two points.

The Germans round off their qualifying campaign with a home clash against Northern Ireland next Tuesday, and on the same night Netherlands play host to Estonia.

Croatia and Austria each won on Saturday to join Netherlands and Germany in securing their places at Euro 2020.

Both Croatia and Austria came into their latest fixtures knowing only a point was required to reach the finals next year, although Zlatko Dalic's men threatened to make hard work of their progress.

Playing their final qualifier, unlike Austria, who have another against Latvia to come, Croatia trailed at home to Slovakia until the 56th minute.

Robert Bozenik had put the visitors in front, but Nikola Vlasic and Bruno Petkovic scored in quick succession approaching the hour-mark to turn the match on its head.

Ivan Perisic completed a 3-1 victory after Slovakia's Robert Mak was sent off, which sees World Cup finalists Croatia qualify as Group E winners.

Hungary lie second but must visit third-place Wales – just one point back – next week. A draw there would open the door for Slovakia to advance with victory at home to Azerbaijan.

Austria enjoyed a more straightforward outing, beating Macedonia 2-1 to join Poland in the top two in Group G.

David Alaba and Stefan Lainer scored early in each half, meaning Vlatko Stojanovski's 93rd-minute reply mattered not.

Ronald Koeman could celebrate a mission accomplished as Netherlands clinched their place at the Euro 2020 finals with a 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland.

Coach Koeman and an emerging band of exciting young players have lifted the Dutch out of the doldrums, after failing to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

Their lone European Championship triumph came in 1988, when a team featuring Koeman at centre-back and the likes of Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten further forward brought home the trophy from West Germany.

But Netherlands will head into next year's tournament as a rejuvenated side in with a shout of success, albeit they must produce more persuasive cutting edge than the Windsor Park crowd witnessed on Saturday.

There might have been a Group C upset too, but Steven Davis fired over a first-half penalty for Northern Ireland.

This was a game unlikely to live long in the memory. Josh Magennis went close with an early header for the hosts, before the ball looped up off Steven Berghuis at the other end and hit the Northern Ireland bar.

Ryan Babel was lively for Netherlands but lacked a precise finish, which was what Northern Ireland needed on the half-hour after being awarded a controversial penalty.

Paddy McNair's cross from the right was perfect for George Saville, whose volley struck the arm of Joel Veltman and trundled against the right post.

Despite Dutch protests that Veltman had no chance to get his arms out of the way, the spot-kick was confirmed but Davis hacked the ball a yard over the crossbar.

Netherlands were lacking control and made an apparent tactical substitution before the break, with Davy Propper replacing Marten de Roon, who was booked early on, in midfield.

Magennis squandered another decent chance with his head early in the second half, and news of Germany winning against Belarus meant a draw would not be enough to sustain Northern Ireland's hopes of qualifying directly through to the group stage.

It meant the side led by Michael O'Neill, who will soon give up his Northern Ireland role after last week becoming Stoke City's new manager, needed to go all out for victory.

The Dutch looked the more likely though, Babel having a header saved low down by Bailey Peacock-Farrell before Luuk de Jong came on for Berghuis. The breakthrough continued to elude both sides, with the draw a fair outcome.

What does it mean? Top two settled in Group C

Netherlands are going to the Euros, and Northern Ireland must take the play-off route if they wish to qualify. That fall-back was always likely to be their realistic target after being drawn in the same group as Germany and Koeman's side.

A striking difference

The Dutch team that ruled Europe in 1988 packed a serious punch up front, with Van Basten and Gullit an irrepressible combination. This is not a vintage era for Dutch forwards, however, and the selection of Ryan Babel to lead the line in Belfast exemplified that shortcoming in an otherwise blossoming team. The journeyman turns 33 next month and averages a goal every six games for his country. There must surely be a better alternative to be groomed for a leading role next year.

Davis misses his cue

Davis has been Northern Ireland's Mr Reliable for years, and this was his 116th appearance - beating David Beckham's mark for England to become the UK's most-capped midfielder. But the 34-year-old miscued from the penalty spot at a critical moment, his composure lacking as he cleared the bar.

What's next?

Netherlands and Northern Ireland wrap up the qualifying campaign on Tuesday. Koeman's team host Estonia in Amsterdam and Northern Ireland head to take on Germany in Frankfurt.

Germany qualified for Euro 2020 with an ultimately comfortable 4-0 win over Belarus following Toni Kroos' brace at Borussia Park.

Needing Northern Ireland to fail to beat Netherlands in order to secure their place at the finals with victory on Saturday, Joachim Low's men initially struggled to hold up their end of the bargain.

Indeed, Germany laboured for 41 minutes until Matthias Ginter belatedly netted and teed up a second-half stroll.

Leon Goretzka swept in the second, Kroos added the third and then a brilliant fourth, while Group C rivals Northern Ireland were held, setting celebrations in motion in Monchengladbach.

Germany were quickly on top and Aleksandr Gutor had to be alert to react to a deflected Ginter drive, smartly turning the ball around the post.

But the wayward hosts then toiled and an unmarked Timo Werner miscued a header in the centre of goal with the 20th attempt of the first half.

Manuel Neuer was required to bail out his wasteful colleagues, springing to his left to deny Igor Stasevich before blocking from Denis Laptev on the follow-up.

That scare shocked Germany into action, and Ginter's deft flick from a low Serge Gnabry cross deceived Gutor for the opener.

Ginter had a role to play in the second shortly after the restart, too, dummying Kroos' corner for Goretzka to pick out the bottom-left corner.

Gutor dived low to keep out Werner's latest effort but was helpless as Kroos sidefooted inside the right-hand post from 20 yards, assisted by Ginter.

There was time for further Neuer heroics, however, as the Bayern Munich star saved Stasevich's penalty after a clumsy foul on Pavel Nekhajchik from Robin Koch.

Kroos would have the final say, controlling on the turn inside the area, dummying into space and sliding in a low finish for number four.


What does it mean? Work to do - despite the scoreline

It is mission accomplished for Germany, with their place at Euro 2020 clinched. But this is far from a vintage German side and, if they are to be contenders at the finals, improvement is needed from an outfit that struggled early on against relative minnows Belarus, who were also able to cause the 2014 world champions problems going the other way.

Neuer proves his worth

There has been plenty of discussion of late of the goalkeeping role for Germany, with Neuer competing with Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen. While there have been some difficult outings in the past 18 months, this was one of Neuer's better evenings.

His double-stop at 0-0 from Stasevich and Laptev kept the hosts on track after a frustrating first 40 minutes. The penalty save then preserved a deserved clean sheet.

Wasteful Werner's woes

Werner will be grateful to both Neuer and Ginter, as he should have broken the deadlock before they both crucially intervened. An awful attempted header with the goal gaping summed up an underwhelming display from Germany's star attacker. Such misses at Euro 2020 will likely be far more costly.

What's next?

Germany host Northern Ireland on Tuesday in a match that now means little to either side. Belarus are into the play-offs but have appeared for the final time in this group, instead playing Montenegro in a friendly next week.

Ryan Giggs is hopeful of starting Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey in Wales' crucial Euro 2020 qualifier with Hungary after using both players in the win over Azerbaijan.

Bale made his first appearance in a month on Saturday as Wales eased to a 2-0 victory in Baku that ensures their bid to qualify automatically for next year's tournament will go down to the final game.

The Real Madrid forward has been carrying a calf injury and lasted an hour before being replaced by Juventus midfielder Ramsey, who has also struggled for playing time of late due to a thigh problem.

Giggs has yet to have both players on the pitch during qualifying but is optimistic of that changing against Hungary in Cardiff on Tuesday,

"We've still got to assess them," he said at his post-match news conference. "Getting Gareth off pretty early on and giving Aaron some minutes helped.

"Aaron showed his quality when he came on, but it's a quick turnaround. Gareth was blowing a little bit, which is understandable, but hopefully I'll have the option of starting both on Tuesday."

Wales are now unbeaten in four Group E games since back-to-back away losses in June and are within a point of second-place Hungary, while Slovakia are a point behind ahead of their game in hand against Croatia later on Saturday.

Victory for Wales against Hungary, coupled with Slovakia failing to take maximum points from their remaining two matches, would be enough for Giggs' men to secure automatic qualification for Euro 2020.

"We've had four good performances in a row, which we needed after the two difficult games in the summer," Giggs said. "We needed to be strong and we have been. 

"I was not happy with the number of corners we gave away, but they never really troubled us in open play and we could have scored a few more goals.

"Depending on the Croatia-Slovakia score, it sets us up nicely for Tuesday's game."

Kieffer Moore doubled his goals tally in a Wales shirt with a 10th-minute opener at Bakcell Arena, while Harry Wilson was also on target in the first half of a comfortable away victory.

It was Wales' first away win since October 2018 and Giggs added: "Some of our play was outstanding.

"Since the Azerbaijan game at home we've improved. We've played some difficult teams but overall the performances have improved. 

"We started to gain some sort of momentum, which isn't easy in international football. The lads came into camp really confident. It doesn't matter who's come in, they've all contributed. 

"It's not an easy place to come, so it's up there with one of our best performances."

San Marino scored their first home goal in six years – and their first of any kind since 2017 – in Saturday's 3-1 Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Kazakhstan.

Placed 209th in the latest FIFA rankings, joint-bottom with Anguilla, San Marino's run without a goal on home soil stretched back 20 matches since a 5-1 loss against Poland in September 2013.

They had also failed to find the net home or away since Mirko Palazzi's consolation goal in a 5-1 reverse at the hands of Azerbaijan 26 months ago, suffering 9-0 defeats to Russia and Belgium and an 8-0 loss to Norway during that streak.

Those barren goalscoring runs ended in the qualifying clash with Kazakhstan in Serravalle thanks to Filippo Berardi's second-half strike.

The 22-year-old winger, who plies his club trade for Serie C side Vibonese, rounded opposition goalkeeper Dmytro Nepogodov after latching onto a throughball and slotted into an empty net.

San Marino, 3-0 down at the time of the goal, remain bottom of Group I without a point and with a goal difference of -45 from their nine matches.

They have lost 35 competitive games in a row since a 0-0 draw with Estonia in Euro 2016 qualifying five years ago.

Eden Hazard scored twice and teed up his younger brother Thorgan for a goal as Belgium maintained their 100 per cent record in Euro 2020 qualifying with a 4-1 win in Russia.

Roberto Martinez's men made light work of a Russia side that went into the game on the back of seven consecutive victories in which they conceded just once.

Coach Stanislav Cherchesov stood and watched as his defence was run ragged by the Hazard brothers and by Dries Mertens and Kevin De Bruyne, who controlled the game from midfield.

Romelu Lukaku scored the final goal of a victory that moves Belgium six points clear at the top of Group I with nine wins from nine games, Russia's consolation strike from Georgi Dzhikiya the only fly in the ointment for Martinez.

Lukaku's feet seemed to get stuck in the turf when Eden Hazard's pull-back found him unmarked in the box early on, but moments later Thorgan Hazard made amends after being played into the box by his older brother.

The Borussia Dortmund winger jinked inside Mario Fernandes before scoring with a clean strike that flew into the top corner of Guilherme's net.

Lukaku's well-judged knock-down presented the unmarked Eden Hazard with a chance to double Belgium's lead from the edge of the box and the Real Madrid man made no mistake, beating Guilherme for power with his clinical low drive.

Russia were pulled apart for the third, which arrived in the 40th minute when Mertens' weighted pass released De Bruyne, who strode through a huge gap in the hosts' defence and drew Guilherme before squaring to Eden Hazard for a simple finish.

Thorgan Hazard played Mertens in for what looked like a certain goal early in the second half but the Napoli man fired tamely at Guilherme before leaving the field clutching his hamstring.

The loss of Mertens did not stop Belgium from chasing a fourth, which came courtesy of Lukaku's surge across the edge of the box and a thunderous low finish from the Inter striker.

Thibaut Courtois could only parry Dmitry Kuzyaev's shot into the path of Dzhikiya 11 minutes from time, but his side-footed shot into the unguarded net did little to take the sheen off a fine Belgium win.


What does it mean? Deja vu for Cherchesov's men

Russia are the only side to score against Belgium in qualifying, with Denis Cheryshev's goal in a 3-1 defeat in March and Dzhikiya's consolation strike here the sum total conceded by a steely Belgium defence, and this game was not far from a repeat of the March encounter.

Russia caught in the Hazards

The constant endeavour of Thorgan and Eden Hazard down the Belgian left caused Russia problems throughout the first half and their lethal finishing all but settled the match.

Wasteful Dzyuba highlights Cheryshev absence

Russia could have been ahead after five minutes but Artem Dzyuba headed wide from six yards and committed a foul in the process, squandering his side's chance to take an early lead.

What's next?

Belgium entertain Cyprus in Brussels on Tuesday, while Russia travel to San Marino to face Group I's stragglers.

Kosovo coach Bernard Challandes believes Raheem Sterling is so good a broken leg is one of the only ways to stop the England star, but added his team are "too nice" for that.

Sterling will return to the England team for their final Euro 2020 qualifier at Kosovo on Sunday, having sat out the midweek win over Montenegro following a confrontation with team-mate Joe Gomez.

The Manchester City winger scored one and created three more as Kosovo were beaten 5-3 at St Mary's Stadium earlier in the campaign.

Challandes is not enthused by the prospect of Sterling returning with a point to prove this weekend, yet he insists his side will not resort to rough tactics.

"The bad news for us is that Sterling will play," Challandes told a pre-match news conference. "He is one of the best in the world in his position.

"But [Marcus] Rashford is great, [Harry] Kane, [Tammy] Abraham - England have a lot of great players. Whether we play against Sterling or not, we have to play a superb match.

"We are not dealing with individuals but with the team as a whole, so we will be preparing for England.

"How to stop Sterling? Maybe we break his leg, but it's not our style. We are too nice. But we have a good team, as we have shown in this qualification campaign."

The 7-0 win over Montenegro that booked England's place at Euro 2020 meant Gareth Southgate's men were top of the scoring charts in qualification prior to Saturday's games.

The Three Lions' goal-hungry attack concerns Challandes, who added: "England have tremendous offensive potential, scoring many goals and winning 7-0, 6-0 and 5-0.

"For us, it is a challenge, an incredible challenge. As a coach, I can enjoy this game but, of course, I am a little bit scared.

"This is the 1001st match for England, and it is the 29th for us. They have a little bit more experience than we do."

Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic suffered a thigh injury against Italy on Friday, Bosnia-Herzegovina have confirmed.

Pjanic has been in impressive form for Juve in Serie A this season but pulled up in a 1-1 draw against Lecce in October, returning in the Turin derby at the start of this month.

He looks to have suffered another setback after being substituted with 13 minutes remaining of a 3-0 home Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Italy.

Bosnia confirmed on Saturday the 29-year-old would miss their trip to Liechtenstein on Monday, leaving Juve with a fitness concern ahead of a tough test against Atalanta next weekend.

"National team players Miralem Pjanic and Luka Menalo will miss the team's next match against Liechtenstein due to injuries," Bosnia's statement read.

"Pjanic has an adductor injury, while Menalo has an ankle injury."

Ryan Christie acknowledged Scotland were fortunate to survive an early scare against Cyprus, who looked to have taken the lead inside six minutes on Saturday.

Scotland won 2-1 in Nicosia to leapfrog Cyprus into third in Euro 2020 qualification Group I, although neither side can progress automatically to the finals.

The visitors could have been behind before Christie netted his first international goal after 12 minutes, however, as Giorgios Efrem's shot against the crossbar appeared to bounce over the goal line.

No goal was given, allowing Christie to break the deadlock. Efrem later equalised but John McGinn's swift riposte clinched the points.

Reflecting on the incident, Christie told Sky Sports: "From where I was, to be honest, it looked over the line. I've obviously not seen it back yet.

"We rode our luck a bit there in the first 10 minutes. It probably took us longer than we wanted to feel our way into the game.

"After that scare, we got to grips with the game. The goal came and, from there, we were pretty resilient."

He added of his first Scotland goal: "I'm delighted, obviously.

"It's something I've been desperate to do every time I've played for Scotland, and it's probably taken me longer than I wanted. It's nice to get it in a win, as well."

Scotland play Kazakhstan on Tuesday but are already looking towards a home play-off semi-final in March 2020, where McGinn hopes their belief will be boosted by wins such as these.

"There's a lot of new faces in the squad," the in-form Aston Villa midfielder said. "That's a game we might have drawn or lost in recent times, so it's important we get a winning mentality in games like that.

"Even though it wasn't pretty towards the end, it's so important as we build towards March.

Ryan Christie and John McGinn fired a weakened Scotland side to a 2-1 win and a home-and-away double over Cyprus in Euro 2020 qualification on Saturday.

Neither team could progress from Group I following their respective humbling defeats to Russia last month, yet Scotland have a home play-off semi-final to come in March 2020.

They moved above hosts Cyprus into third in the standings here, too, victorious despite the absence of big names Andrew Robertson, Kieran Tierney, Scott McTominay and Ryan Fraser.

Christie's first international goal put Scotland ahead after 12 minutes, before Giorgios Efrem equalised and McGinn hit back in the space of six second-half-minutes, seeing Scotland to a second 2-1 win over Cyprus in this campaign.

Cyprus came agonisingly close to opening the scoring inside six minutes as former Rangers winger Efrem smartly worked space inside the area and crashed a shot against the underside of the crossbar.

The ball seemingly bounced over the line but, with no technology to assist the officials, was not awarded as a goal.

There was no stopping the opener that followed at the other end, with Christie darting inside from the right and curling a glorious left-footed effort in from 20 yards.

Even better was to come from Efrem at the start of the second half, however, as he met a half-cleared set-piece with a sweetly struck volley that faded away from David Marshall into the top-right corner.

It proved merely a momentary setback for Scotland and they soon led again through McGinn, meeting Greg Taylor's cross and directing a left-footed finish past Urko Pardo.

Ioannis Kosti should have levelled matters again but sent a stooping header just wide, while Fotios Papoulis was guilty of a glaring stoppage-time miss as Scotland held on.

 

What does it mean? Positives to take into play-offs

Scotland's hopes of reaching Euro 2020 now rest on getting the better of sides of a similar stature in the play-offs, making this victory against Cyprus - also in Nations League C - all the more encouraging. Steve Clarke's men should certainly fancy their chances of reaching the finals if the likes of Robertson and McTominay are able to return next year.

Christie off the mark

Perhaps understandably given the absent stars, Scotland lacked fluidity in possession early on. However, Christie impressed again, netting with a fine strike. His two assists against San Marino last month included a seemingly goal-bound effort that McGinn touched in, but the winger was not be denied a maiden international effort this time.

McKenna off the boil

Scotland had Declan Gallagher making his debut at the heart of the defence, yet Scott McKenna looked the more uncertain of the two centre-backs. McKenna was sold hopelessly by Efrem's dummy prior to the shot that should have seen Cyprus in front, before the Aberdeen man's rash lunge led to the free-kick from which the hosts equalised.

What's next?

This stage of qualification ends for these two sides on Tuesday, as Scotland host Kazakhstan while Cyprus visit Belgium. However, Clarke's side have at least one more match still to come in the play-offs in March.

Liverpool pair Joe Gomez and Jordan Henderson have been ruled out of England's final Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo on Sunday.

Gomez, 22, sustained a knock to the knee in training on Friday and will not travel with the rest of Gareth Southgate's squad, an England statement confirmed.

The injury caps a tumultuous few days for the defender, who was involved in a bust-up with Raheem Sterling earlier in the week.

Some fans booed Gomez when he was introduced as a second-half substitute during England's clinical 7-0 win over Montenegro at Wembley.

Southgate and Sterling expressed bewilderment over the treatment of the young centre-back and England will now be without him as the Three Lions wrap up their Group A campaign, having already sealed qualification.

Henderson was not involved against Montenegro after arriving in camp with a viral infection, which has not fully cleared.

"The pair have returned to their club meaning the Three Lions will head to Pristina on Saturday with a 23-man squad," the statement concluded.

Premier League leaders Liverpool will hope to have both players available when their title tilt resumes away to Crystal Palace on November 23.

Gareth Southgate has classed Phil Foden among the "talented players" who can count themselves unlucky to be on the outer for England.

Considered one of the top prospects of his generation, the Manchester City midfielder has been made to wait for a maiden senior call-up as he seeks regular minutes at club level.

Foden, 19, scored for England's Under-21s in a 3-0 win over Albania the day after Southgate's side hammered Montenegro 7-0 at Wembley.

More of the same for City, for whom he has made four substitute appearances in the Premier League this season, could yet catapult the highly rated teenager into selection contention for Euro 2020.

"You know, we're still looking at Foden and thinking that it's a case of when, rather than if, unless something goes wildly off-track for him," Southgate said when assessing his options.

"So, there are some very good players, talented players that weren't in this squad. Obviously, guys that have been with us before like Dele [Alli] as well.

"We have got incredible competition for places, particularly in those attacking five positions."

The sheer number of players blocking Foden's path poses a similar problem to the one he faces at the Etihad Stadium.

Mason Mount, James Maddison, Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are among those vying for spots in Southgate's preferred 4-3-3 system.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another in contention to claim a starting berth alongside Jordan Henderson and Harry Winks, who appears to have edged ahead of Declan Rice in the holding role.

Liverpool midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain continued his fine form by scoring the opener against Montenegro on Thursday, having battled back from a serious knee injury suffered two months before the World Cup.

"In that time there have been a lot of other boys who have come through," Oxlade-Chamberlain said.

"There are different players and new dynamics, so it is nice to slot back in and push myself to keep improving and try to find something different to help this team move forward.

"I've made steps forward for sure with where I was before. I've got that feeling back of attacking and getting into areas and a few goals help that and help my confidence and for others to say I have found my form."

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