Team GB sprint star Dina Asher-Smith hailed Marcus Rashford and his England team-mates for "showing a really good sense of moral leadership for our nation".

Manchester United striker Rashford earned plaudits for his work lobbying the government to provide free school meals during the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year, while he and the rest of the Three Lions squad who reached the final of Euro 2020 this month were also vocal in the fight against racism, continuing to take a knee throughout the tournament in a united showing against racial prejudice.

Asher-Smith, who will be going for gold in the 100 and 200 metres at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, has herself spoken out about her experiences of racism and in March she received the column of the year award by the International Sport Press Association for an article she wrote in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder.

She has also been a vocal supporter of the protests taken by Naomi Osaka and Lewis Hamilton in the past and the 25-year-old, a die-hard Red Devils supporter, hopes to do more in the area of social activism once the Olympics have finished.

"I think what Marcus and all the other players have been doing is fantastic and it made me so proud to watch them and see how they conducted themselves," Asher-Smith told a roundtable of journalists at a pre-Games Team GB call.

"I think they've done fantastically throughout the Euros. I think they surpassed all our expectations in the nicest way.

"They are actually a credit to our nation and showing a really good sense of moral leadership for our nation and I think as sports people we are really proud and definitely as a Brit, and a black Brit, especially throughout the Euros I was really proud of them. I think they represented both the nation and our community incredibly well.

"Social activism is something I'd love to increase, but with the Olympics and everything I've been one-track minded towards Tokyo. But definitely once we're past this point, because I definitely compartmentalise things, when I'm over this little compartment of my life that's definitely something I want to increase because you do have to give back.

"I think it's an essential part of being not only an athlete but someone who has had an opportunity and the only reason I'm here today is because of the good will and hard work of so many other people in teams and throughout my community and so many opportunities I've had, whether that's grants or school teachers taking extra time to take me to a club or telling me about a club.

"It's goodwill of other people so it would be entirely selfish to not give back when you have the opportunity to in your career and I'm really proud of how the footballers have done that throughout the year and how they conducted themselves throughout the Euros." 

 

Athletes competing in Tokyo are set to have more scope to protest at the upcoming Olympics after the IOC relaxed its controversial Rule 50, which previously forbade any "demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas".

The IOC will allow athletes to make protests prior to competitions starting, though anyone doing so on podiums or medal ceremonies – similar to the famous Black Power salute made by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics – could face sanctions.

Asher-Smith always expected a climb down, adding: "I think to see the IOC lifted the ban, I was entirely unsurprised. 

"Protesting I see as a fundamental human right, so if you were to penalise someone for standing up against racial inequality how on earth would that go? You know what I mean? How on earth would you enforce that? 

"Would you revoke somebody's medal for saying racism is wrong? I honestly thought that was always going to happen otherwise they would have just been faced with loads of athlete protests at the Games and it would have been really embarrassing, you can't really tell people not to.

"Unless they want to say they're against people saying they're against racism I didn't know how that was going to go.

"Some of the Olympics' most iconic moments have been the Black Power salute by Tommie Smith way back when, and that is something people remember the Olympics for, that's something they're very proud to see at the Olympic Games."

Asher-Smith, the reigning 200m world champion, also hopes she can play her part in inspiring young women to take part in sports over the course of the next two weeks.

"I think the next fortnight has great potential to inspire an entire generation of young women as we do with every Olympics," she said.

"But I think it's becoming increasingly important nowadays. We have significant drop-off rates of young women.

"They hit teenage years, they're all very active in the sporting field or active world, then they hit between 11 and 15 and drop out in their droves.

"Then it's under 10 per cent get enough exercise or get the government recommended guidelines of exercise and engage on aesthetic grounds rather than having fun. 

"I hope the next fortnight shows not only can you make a viable career out of this. Being a sportswoman in whatever you want to do is a viable career it's not just track and field, it's not just tennis, it's not just football there are many avenues you can go down to be a career sportswoman. 

"But also that it's fun, that it can completely change your life, develop lifelong friendships, it's not just about doing sport for a physical goal to lose weight, to gain this, to alter your body but also for self-esteem, your mind, your mental health and to live a fulfilled and enriched life. 

"I think the Olympic Games has an incredible chance to inspire so many women and also women who have had babies, and the Paralympics as well, women who have very different life circumstances to all of us, so I think it's a great platform and showcase for all the sports we love."

Ollie Robinson has been recalled for England's first two Tests against India, with Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes also named in the 17-man squad.

Robinson impressed on debut against New Zealand at Lord's in June, taking seven wickets.

But during the match, historic Twitter posts of a racist and sexist nature made by the 27-year-old Sussex seamer emerged and, following an investigation, he was handed an eight-match ban and fined £3,200 for breaking England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) directives.

Five of the eight games were suspended for two years and Robinson served the others while his case was examined.

He comes back into the fold as captain Joe Root heads into the five-match series, which begins at Trent Bridge on August 4, without Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes due to respective elbow and heel injuries.

Bairstow will provide wicketkeeping cover for Jos Buttler – another player to return having missed the New Zealand series following India Premier League commitments, along with all-rounder Sam Curran – and could also push for a place as a specialist batsman given the meagre efforts of England's middle order in the 1-0 loss to the Black Caps.

 

Stokes played through the pain in the recent ODI series win over Pakistan, returning ahead of schedule from a broken finger to captain a scratch team after a COVID-19 forced all of the initially selected squad into isolation.

James Bracey drops out after two consecutive ducks and a tough examination with the gloves on his maiden venture in the longest format, and there is no place for Dawid Malan.

Haseeb Hameed will again provide an alternative to out-of-form number three Zak Crawley, although Bairstow also filled that slot away from home earlier this year. Following some promising contributions in Sri Lanka he registered three noughts in four outings against India.

All of the England players allocated to franchises in the new Hundred competition will play in the first two matches before joining up with the Test squad.

Bairstow's mooted return to the Test setup brought thinly veiled irritation on Tuesday from Welsh Fire head coach Gary Kirsten, who was hoping to have the Yorkshireman available for the majority of the campaign.

Speaking to talkSPORT, former South Africa opener Kirsten said: "We're hearing that Jonny Bairstow, who we've designated as our captain, is now suddenly becoming a Test cricketer again. So we could have him for maybe one or two games"

 

England squad: Joe Root (capt), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood

Arguably England's best player in their last three knockout fixtures at Euro 2020, Luke Shaw reportedly struggled through games against Ukraine, Denmark and Italy with broken ribs.

The left-back was part of Gareth Southgate's side that suffered shoot-out heartbreak against Italy in the final, but it has become apparent that Shaw was playing through the pain for his country, after suffering a blow to his ribs against Germany in the last 16.

According to the Telegraph, Manchester United will now wait to assess the left-back, whose sole goal at the European Championship represented the fastest to be scored in a final since 1964, ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

The former Southampton academy product was in scintillating form throughout Euro 2020 as he recorded three assists in six games to add to his final strike past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

 

His three assists, two against Ukraine and one against Germany, could only be bettered by Switzerland's Steven Zuber (four).

The 26-year-old (10) created two more chances than any other player for England and, amongst the defenders at the tournament, only Spain's Jordi Alba (12) provided more opportunities.

Shaw was as testing down the left flank for United throughout the domestic season, too, as he created 72 chances. Bruno Fernandes (95) was the sole United player with more to his name.

The Red Devils must now wait for news of Shaw's fitness - potential another post-Euros blow for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after Marcus Rashford underwent shoulder surgery.

Italy and England combined to produce a nail-biting finale to Euro 2020, which was enjoyed by an average audience of 6.4 million viewers in the United States.

Those staggering viewership numbers meant the 2020 showpiece became the most-watched European Championship final in the USA, surpassing the previous record from the Euro 2012 final (4.5 million for Spain v Italy). Viewership increased 43 per cent on the 2016 final.

Even the first two games of the NBA Finals failed to produce better viewing figures, with the USA appearing to have savoured a memorable European Championship.

In fact, as Gianluigi Donnarumma's shoot-out heroics clinched Italy's first European Championship title since 1968, the audience in the United States peaked at 8.1 million, according to ESPN figures.

The final, as expected, had the most American viewers glued to their screens but Euro 2020 produced wholesale improvements throughout the tournament.

Across all 51 matches at Euro 2020, ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 delivered an average viewership of 1.3 million, a 31 per cent increase on the previous edition in 2016.

The round-of-16 fixtures and semi-final clashes provided the most significant improvements from 2016, with those rounds producing 38 and 37 per cent increases to draw in 1.8 million and 2.5 million viewers on average respectively.

The Football Association has commissioned an independent review into the "disgraceful scenes" that marred England's Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy at Wembley.

England suffered a 3-2 penalty shoot-out loss on home soil to Italy on July 11 following a 1-1 draw after extra time in their first major tournament final in 55 years.

The showpiece match was overshadowed by a security breach that saw a number of ticketless supporters enter the stadium and clash with fellow fans and stewards.

UEFA last week launched its own investigation and hit the FA with four charges relating to fan disorder, including the throwing of objects and the lighting of fireworks.

The unsavoury scenes prompted Julian Knight MP, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS), to write to FA CEO Mark Bullingham demanding answers.

And in a statement released on Monday, the FA has vowed to identify those responsible for the trouble before, during and after the game.

"We are determined to fully understand what happened outside and then inside Wembley Stadium at the Euro 2020 final on July 11," the statement read.

"We informed DCMS at the weekend that an independent review led by Baroness Casey of Blackstock has been commissioned to report on the facts and circumstances involved. 

"It will speak to all parties concerned and include external experts.

"A key emphasis of the findings will be to ensure that lessons are learned and such disgraceful scenes are never able to be repeated. 

"We continue to work with the relevant authorities in support of their efforts to identify those responsible and hold them to account."

The FA was also previously fined €30,000 (£25,630) by UEFA for the behaviour of supporters during the semi-final win against Denmark, which included a laser being shone at Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

England's three-pronged spin attack proved to be the difference as the hosts squared the T20I series against Pakistan at Headingley with a 45-run win.

Jos Buttler returned to skipper England as captain Eoin Morgan sat out and he top scored with a stunning 59 from 39 deliveries at the top of the order.

Moeen Ali (36) and Liam Livingstone (38) supplied explosive middle-order contributions, but England lost wickets frequently and there was a suspicion their 200 all out in 19.5 was a touch shy of what was required in perfect batting conditions in a sweltering Leeds.

But a Pakistan batting line-up that posted 232-6 in a 31-run win at Trent Bridge on Friday were effectively shackled by leg-spinners Adil Rashid (2-30) and Matt Parkinson (1-25) and Moeen's off-spin (2-32), with paceman Saqib Mahmood the pick of the attack thanks to 3-33 that began with the vital wicket of visiting captain Babar Azam (22).

Jason Roy set the tone for England's innings with a huge six and a four off slow left-armer Imad Wasim (2-37) before holing out within the first over.

Dawid Malan scratched around for one off five deliveries – top-edging a sweep off Imad to be caught by Azam Khan – although there were no such problems for Moeen in his blistering 16-ball stay, nor Livingstone, who followed up his incredible century in Nottingham by bludgeoning two fours and three sixes. One of those remarkably cleared the grandstand at the Football Ground End.

Buttler was in typically sublime touch through extra cover and only fell to Mohammad Hasnain (3-51) with a thunderous hit straight to Babar at mid-off.

Jonny Bairstow, Tom Curran and Chris Jordan came and went without being able to produce anything of similar substance and the sense England had been slightly wasteful was heightened as Babar and Mohammad Rizwan (37) added 50 for the first wicket.

Babar skewed a cross-seam delivery from Mahmood to a diving Malan and, as Rashid and Parkinson got into their work, Pakistan were unable to regain their momentum.

A fine return catch from Rashid accounted for Rizwan, while Moeen had Mohammad Hafeez caught behind for 10 and bowled Fakhar Zaman with a beauty to scoop the player of the match award.

England captain Joe Root brought a commendable act of sportsmanship to one of English sport's oldest rivalries on Saturday – although plenty of Yorkshire fans might feel he let Lancashire all-rounder Steven Croft off lightly.

Chasing a meagre 128-7 to win in the T20 Blast Roses match at Old Trafford – Root having top scored with 32 for the visitors – Lancashire slumped to 64-5 in the eighth over.

Croft (26 not out) and Luke Wells (30) embarked upon a rebuilding job that left Dane Villas' side needing 18 from 15 deliveries, at which point Croft collapsed to the ground mid-pitch when trying to run quick single.

The batsman howled in pain and, under instruction from stand-in captain Root, Yorkshire opted not to run him out. After treatment for cramp, Croft was still in the middle when Danny Lamb hit the winning runs and Lancashire secured a quarter-final berth by four wickets.

"As a side we made a very difficult decision under pressure," Root said, as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.

"It looked very serious at first glance. In many ways it was a relief it was nothing serious. I am sure there will be many different opinions. Many people would have handled it differently."

Afterwards, Croft paid tribute to the England skipper and his team-mates, suggesting he'd have been able to have few complaints had he been run out.

"Two games in two days at 36 and a bit of sun has done me," he told Sky Sports. "I put the brakes on, they worked, and my legs just cramped up.

"I didn't know where the ball had gone. They could have taken the bails off and credit to them that they didn't."

Italy are European champions and on a long unbeaten streak but should be even better by the time of the 2022 World Cup, according to former forward Gianfranco Zola.

The Azzurri have been transformed under Roberto Mancini since missing out on qualifying for the previous finals in Russia.

Mancini's men won the Euro 2020 final against England on penalties and are now undefeated in 34 matches, the longest run in the team's history.

However, Zola – who earned 35 caps and scored 10 goals between 1991 and 1997 – sees an even brighter future for Italian football.

Despite including 34-year-old Leonardo Bonucci (the oldest scorer in Euros final history) and 36-year-old captain Giorgio Chiellini (the third-oldest player in final history), Italy named only the 12th-oldest squad at the tournament.

"To get into Mancini's shoes and give him hints on how to improve this team is out of question and risky," Chelsea great Zola told Stats Perform.

"As it is, this squad will be even more competitive in the World Cup.

"They will grow in confidence and improve even further because most of the players are young. To me, they will get to an even higher level."

An already impressive Azzurri midfield could also be boosted by the return from injury of Nicolo Zaniolo, the 22-year-old who has not played since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in action against the Netherlands in September 2020.

That was the Roma man's second ACL tear in eight months – having suffered the same injury to his right knee – and checked the progress of a promising career.

 

In 69 appearances for Roma, Zaniolo has scored 14 goals and laid on six assists from 55 chances created. He has also netted twice in seven senior caps at international level.

"Then [in 2022] some players like Zaniolo will be available," Zola added. "If his injuries [have been] absorbed, he will be an important player to give the contribution needed to make this squad even better

"And, to me, some other youngsters will shine, because the long wave of enthusiasm given by this trophy will make many youngsters step up.

"Italy will be competitive at the World Cup – no hints needed for Mancini."

But Zola also anticipates another challenge from beaten Euro 2020 opponents England, who reached their first major tournament final in 55 years.

The average age Three Lions' line-up for the final (26y 328d) was almost two years younger than Italy's (28y 272d) and they also have room to grow.

"It is an extremely young and talented squad," Zola said. "England can only grow and this defeat won't be a problem.

"England, like Italy and Spain, boast many young lads with such room to improve. Let's not forget that England often kept out players like [Jadon] Sancho, [Marcus] Rashford and [Phil] Foden that are very important.

"I would be surprised if England weren't a team to beat in Qatar. They have a bright future."

Gianfranco Zola believes there is little prospect of social media platforms becoming safe spaces for sports stars, warning: "Bad people will always be there."

England footballers Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were subjected to racist abuse online after their penalty shoot-out misses in the Euro 2020 final.

Those failures from the spot helped Italy to land their second European Championship triumph.

There have been calls for the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to police their platforms more effectively, with 19-year-old Saka urging the three tech giants to each step up their game.

Former Italy and Chelsea forward Zola told Stats Perform: "Racial abuse is unjustifiable, unforgivable and unacceptable. I reckon that youngsters have to understand very quick that not all people they come across on social media are good.

"They use it to provoke, insult, abuse and vent their daily frustrations. We have to get used to it and learn how to isolate from this. Especially young people who are famous like footballers.

"These are all unjustifiable attacks but we have to learn how to isolate from it all because these bad people will always be there."

Zola, who enjoyed a seven-year spell at Chelsea and collected 35 caps for the Azzurri, explained there is a "dark side of social media".

He said: "Many people use [social media] in an absurd way and can cause damage to kids who are on social media and are not ready to accept all this.

"If you are into social media, you have to be aware these can be used by people to insult and destabilise. This is the dark side."

Gianfranco Zola has claimed England boss Gareth Southgate was "too conservative too soon" in the Euro 2020 final and suffered the inevitable consequences.

Italy's penalty shoot-out victory over England at Wembley on Sunday has been followed by reports that Southgate could soon be knighted.

That is despite his team falling short when they had home advantage, failing to build on Luke Shaw's second-minute strike that was the earliest goal scored in a European Championship final.

Roberto Mancini's impressive Italy had 19 shots to England's six over the 120 minutes, while also enjoying 65.4 per cent of possession. The Azzurri finished with an expected goals score of 2.16 compared to England's meagre 0.55, underlining their dominance of the chances.

Leonardo Bonucci's second-half equaliser was followed by Italy edging a nervy battle on spot-kicks to land the trophy for the first time since 1968, and Zola sensed England retreated too quickly into their shell.

"Maybe Southgate was a bit too conservative because England boast important players at the highest level," Zola told Stats Perform.

"They were doubtlessly advantaged and having scored after just two minutes gave them further advantages. But especially in the second half, they started defending the goal cushion too early, defending so deep – as they say in England – enabling Italy to find their pace and plays and the equaliser was a natural consequence.

"So Southgate was too conservative too soon.

"Mancini on the other hand was so good. All the subs proved him right. When he subbed [Nicolo] Barella I was expecting more [Manuel] Locatelli than [Bryan] Cristante, but he got that right too as the team kept their pace high, producing quality."

 

Former Italy forward Zola, who won 35 caps for the Azzurri, was surprised by how little influence England's Mason Mount had on the final.

Mount has been impressive in the Premier League for Chelsea, the club where Zola was such a favourite in a seven-year spell from 1996 to 2003.

But in 99 minutes of action against Italy, before being substituted, Mount had only 36 touches of the ball and completed just 15 of 22 passes for a 68.2 per cent success rate. All of Italy's starting XI had a higher percentage than Mount achieved, with Federico Chiesa's 77.8 per cent their lowest mark.

Chiesa was far more threatening than Mount, who was given an advanced midfield role by Southgate, operating just behind Harry Kane but barely having any influence on the game.

In 54 games for Chelsea last season, across all competitions, Mount scored nine goals, had eight assists and created 109 chances. The 22-year-old had one assist in 464 minutes of action at the Euros, creating eight chances over the tournament.

"For sure after what he had shown in the Premier League, in the Champions League and even in the friendlies ahead of the Euros, he didn't shine," Zola said.

"He is young and the long season with Chelsea where he always played may have had an impact on his sub-par performance. Yet, he is a very skilful player and this experience will help him become better and stronger.

"As I am told, he is a level-headed kind of guy so this experience will help him for sure."

Kieran Gibbs took strength from the pushback against the racism aimed at Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka after England's penalties heartbreak.

Former England defender Gibbs, who was speaking at his Inter Miami presentation, believes the fallout from the Euro 2020 final highlighted the best and worst of society in his home country.

Saka said on Thursday that he "knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive", and called on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to tighten up controls over content on their platforms.

Sancho and Rashford have also spoken out powerfully this week. A mural of Rashford's image in Manchester was defaced before it became a positive focal point in the local community, with messages of praise, sympathy and solidarity posted on the wall.

"I'm pleased with the reaction from the country," said Gibbs. "Maybe not the initial reaction. Obviously, most things these days are spoiled by a few individuals.

"But the way everyone has responded is testament to the country and where we're at in society.

"i was really pleased to see that, especially being on this side of the water when the game was on.

"I still felt that attachment from home and it was great to see."

Gibbs is relishing his chance to make an impact in Major League Soccer, joining a team who have made a slow start to their second campaign, collecting only eight points from 11 games under Phil Neville's leadership.

 

They have scored just nine goals and conceded 17 already. Neville's side are slightly underperforming against their expected goals (11.3 xG) and expected goals against (16.3 xGA) figures.

Gibbs, 31, who made over 200 appearances for Arsenal before joining West Brom in 2017, will be expected to add strength to the defensive unit.

Inter Miami will also be hoping Gibbs can turn back the clock and bring some of his creative spark to MLS.

In 2017-18, the last campaign where he made more than 20 top-flight appearances, Gibbs created 22 goalscoring chances from his left-back station for West Brom. That was the fourth highest number on the team.

 

Gibbs said of his move to Miami: "It's just a challenge for me to grow as a person off the pitch.

"I've been in the UK all my life and had everything done for me in a way because that's the route that you go down.

"I want to try and explore a different side of life, a challenge of setting up a new life somewhere else and seeing how it goes. I felt that this was the best place to do that.

"I come here humble, I don't want any expectation, I just come willing to give 100 per cent and the rest will be history."

Gibbs could make his debut for Inter Miami on Saturday as Neville takes his struggling team on the road to face the New York Red Bulls.

Phil Neville has labelled Gareth Southgate a "leader of great men" and "national treasure" following England's run to the Euro 2020 final.

Southgate led the Three Lions to their first major tournament final in 55 years, where they suffered penalty shoot-out heartbreak against Italy at Wembley.

It also represented England's best performance in the competition as they topped Group D before overcoming rivals Germany 2-0 in the round of 16.

They then put four past Ukraine in the quarter-finals, while Harry Kane's extra-time penalty secured a 2-1 win over Denmark in the last four.

Ex-England defender Neville, who guided England Women to the 2019 World Cup semi-finals, played alongside Southgate at Euro 96 as Terry Venables' side reached the semi-finals.

They also formed part of Kevin Keegan's squad that were knocked out in the group stages at Euro 2000.

And the Inter Miami head coach has hailed the achievements of his former team-mate, who is currently contracted until after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Lando Norris admitted he is "not in perfect condition" ahead of the British Grand Prix, after he had his watch taken from his wrist in an incident after the Euro 2020 final.

Norris, who is fourth in the Formula One drivers' championship, was targeted as he walked back to his car following Italy's penalty shoot-out win over England at Wembley on Sunday.

McLaren announced on Monday their star driver was left "understandably shaken" following an incident which has been reported to the police.

However, the 21-year-old was cleared to race in his home grand prix this weekend.

Norris acknowledged, though, that the preparation has been far from ideal.

"I'm fine... but I've been better, I can say that. I'm not in perfect condition, I'm not going to lie," he told Sky Sports.

"Some work to do, mentally. Of course I talk about that a lot and mental health, and mental strength is very important. I've not been sleeping that great, and so on.

"Not ideal and I'm feeling a bit sore. But I'm not the guy in the worst position after Wembley.

"I'll work on it, I'll make sure I'm in the best shape possible and I feel like can still go out and focus on what I need to do and that's the main thing.

"I guess it's just unlucky. I don't really want to go into too much detail, but I'm thankful that I'm here.

"It's not the nicest experience for anyone to go through and it's not only me that it's happened to, it's happened to other people. It's something I don't wish upon anyone and, of course, if anyone else goes through it, I can sympathise with them and I know what they feel like."

Norris earned his third podium finish of the season last time out in Austria, and has collected points at 14 successive races. It is the best run of his F1 career.

McLaren were dealt a blow ahead of the return to Silverstone, with chief executive Zak Brown forced to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19.

England's second string have "done themselves a world of good" with their performances in the ODI series against Pakistan, says captain Eoin Morgan.

Ben Stokes returned early from an injury lay-off to captain a hastily assembled side in the three-match series after England's first-choice squad were forced to isolate due to a coronavirus outbreak.

However, with Morgan and Co watching on from the sidelines, England's back-up brigade impressed in a 3-0 series triumph – James Vince scoring his maiden ODI century as he led a record run chase at Edgbaston to secure the third victory.

England's star names have returned for the T20I series, which starts on Friday, though Saqib Mahmood, who was named player of the series, and Lewis Gregory have been rewarded for their performances.

"They've done themselves the world of good, to be honest," Morgan said when asked of the players who stepped up to fulfil the ODI series.

"The one thing you look at when guys come in and out is a marked improvement from the time they [first] get the opportunity to the time the next opportunity arrives. The two guys mentioned [Mahmood and Gregory] and Vince were outstanding.

"I think everybody within the group was extremely proud to watch them play like they did, simply because it's the biggest compliment you can pay to anybody who played in the World Cup group, and the way we've played in the last five years has had such an impact on the game.

"Guys recognise that opportunities are few and far between but, when they do come, the method that the team plays is starting to resonate with people around the country, which is great.

"Over the last six years, with the amount of cricket we play, you don't get to enjoy the cricket as much as you'd like. But sitting back and watching the guys [and] the way the guys played was hugely satisfying. They played an exciting brand of cricket, they really enjoyed themselves, and the result came with that. It was hugely beneficial."

 

England have triumphed in five of their past six T20I home outings, and finished 2020 with three successive wins, meaning a victory at Trent Bridge will match their longest winning run on home soil in the format.

However, Pakistan won the most recent meeting between the teams last September, a five-run victory in Manchester in a series which finished 1-1.

One player Morgan will be unable to call on is Stokes, who has been rested as he recovers from the finger injury which had been set to keep him out of white-ball action this month.

"He dug us out of a huge hole coming back early from his injury and I think leading the way he did is a huge compliment to the leader he is within our side, how mature he has been as a leader and now a captain," Morgan said of Stokes.

"We gave him every chance to be fit. He hasn't played a lot of cricket and he's had some 'R and R' at home and feels quite fresh.

"The finger hasn't come along as he and the medical team would have liked, so it's important it's as good as it can be for the Test matches against India."

Bukayo Saka said he will not be broken by his Euro 2020 final penalty miss and the racist messages that followed, as he told social media bosses to raise their own game.

The versatile winger was one of three England players to miss in the shoot-out defeat to Italy on Sunday, along with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, and revealed he "knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive".

Gianluigi Donnarumma's save from Saka's spot-kick was the decisive moment in the match, which finished 1-1 after extra time, as England fell to a 3-2 penalties defeat at Wembley.

Saka, Rashford and Sancho were all subjected to racist abuse on social media after the game, while a mural of Rashford was defaced in Manchester, prompting a strong reaction from England team-mates, manager Gareth Southgate and the Football Association.

Rashford and Sancho addressed the situation with messages posted on Monday and Wednesday respectively, and 19-year-old Saka delivered his own powerful message on Thursday.

"I have stayed away from social media for a few days to spend time with my family and reflect on the last few weeks," he wrote. "This message won't do it justice how grateful I am for all the love that I have received, and I feel that I need to thank everyone who has supported me."

He described his England team-mates as "brothers for life" and added: "There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was with the result and my penalty. I really believed we would win this for you. I'm sorry that we couldn't bring it home for you this year, but I promise you that we will give everything we've got to make sure this generation knows how it feels to win.

"My reaction post match said it all, I was hurting so much and I felt like I'd let you all and my England family down, but I can promise you this... I will not let that moment or the negativity that I've received this week break me."

The Arsenal youngster called out the likes of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, telling them to do more to tackle problem users.

"For those who have campaigned on my behalf and sent me heartfelt letters, wished me and my family well - I'm so thankful," Saka said.

"This is what football should be about. Passion, people of all races, genders, religions and backgrounds coming together with one shared joy of the rollercoaster of football.

"To the social media platforms @instagram @twitter @facebook I don't want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that me Marcus and Jadon have received this week.

"I knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.

"There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or in any area of society. To the majority of people coming together to call out the people sending these messages, by taking action and reporting these comments to the police and by driving out the hate by being kind to one another, we will win. Love always wins."

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