Tarkowski revels in England bow despite VAR blow

Burnley centre-back James Tarkowski impressed manager Gareth Southgate in an eventful England debut against Italy at Wembley.

England defender James Tarkowski   -  Getty Images

James Tarkowski will not let VAR change his approach to defending after the much-discussed technology saw his England debut end on a sour note.

Burnley centre-back Tarkowski turned in an accomplished display in Gareth Southgate's back three against Italy at Wembley but the visitors left with a 1-1 draw when he was adjudged to have brought down substitute Federico Chiesa on review.

Lorenzo Insigne converted the 87th-minute spot-kick to cancel out Jamie Vardy's first-half opener, leaving Tarkowski frustrated by referee Deniz Aytekin decision to go against his original call after consulting the pitch side monitor.

"He didn't give it originally so he didn't believe it was a penalty either," the 25-year-old said. "That's the way VAR is – sometimes it'll work in our favour and sometimes it won't.

"You just have to keep doing what you're doing and let the referees make decisions.

"I did touch him but that was my running pattern rather than trying to win the ball or making a tackle. That's why I didn't think it was a penalty."

Southgate, also a central defender during his playing days, concurred with Tarkowski that England's defensive methods should not be tailored to cope with VAR at the World Cup – where they must take extreme care in any case.

"We know that against the top teams avoiding conceding free-kicks in your third of the pitch is critical," said the England boss.

"Whether that's [helps to avoid] free-kicks or a penalty… in those situations you have some maestros of the game. We have to defend with patience."

Southgate added: "It was really good to see James Tarkowski tonight. He coped well with international football, he was good on the ball and was a real plus."

Those words suggest further opportunities lie in wait for the former Oldham Athletic and Brentford player, following his route less travelled to the top level.

Tarkowski's first taste of international football was certainly one he relished.

"I'd probably say there was a little bit more pressure because you're representing the whole nation but in terms of quality you play against top players every week in the Premier League," he added.

"You'd find it hard to up the quality of the Premier League but there probably is more pressure representing the country rather than a town or city.

"It's been a bit of a journey to get here but it's been a really good season and this has topped it off. On occasions like that, if you don't enjoy yourself, when are you going to enjoy your football?"

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