This was England first 'B' side game in exactly one year with the aim for McClaren to take a look at fringe players for the upcoming games - a friendly against Brazil on 1 June at the new Wembley Stadium (a return to England's home field for the first time in 7 years), and a Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia on 6 June. The game marked a return to the international scene for Michael Owen, who had been missing from the England squad during the 2006/7 season due to a long term injury, which he sustained during last summer's World Cup Finals in Germany.
In front of a sellout crowd at Turf Moor, England's players set about making an impression on their manager for a place in the senior squad, which is due to be named in the morning. Shorey, Jagielka, Taylor, Lescott and Bentley were all newcomers to the senior levels, the latter being named man-of-the-match after a great performance and despite the jeers of the fans (no love lost between Blackburn Rovers and Burnley). The first main point of the game was the unfortunate injury to Aaron Lennon, who left the field after only 10 minutes of play. He should have been on the score sheet after only 5 minutes but his effort went wide of Albania's goal. It would be his only chance of the game after being forced to leave so early.
Berisha launched a rocket of a shot in the 17th minute from 25 yards out, which hit the crossbar. England were under pressure for a few minutes but England fought back and took the lead in the 34th minute through a 20 yard strike from Alan Smith. Just two minutes later the lead was extended when Stewart Downing volleyed the ball into the net. The move was started off by Jenas who found Bentley. The Rovers' player made a great cross to Downing to finish the play. Minutes later the same players were involved in nice build-up but a goal didn't materialise. Berisha pulled a goal back for Albania with two minutes of the first half remaining with a nice shot.
In the opening period of the second half, Bentley was involved in a number England moves, often through his crosses and corners. He played the ball to Owen in the 59th minute of the game, who, after beating a defender, made a pass to Downing who scored his second goal of the evening, and England's third.
As the game played out to a less lively conclusion, players had given McClaren a lot to ponder during the night as he makes his final selection for his next senior squad tomorrow. David Bentley impressed, as did Stewart Downing, and it would be hard to imagine these two, along with Owen not being named in the squad for the games against Brazil and Estonia.
Carson #1, Dawson #6, King #5, P Neville #2 (Jagielka 46 mins - #12), Shorey #3 (Lescott 73 mins - #15), Barry #4 (S Taylor 64 mins - #14), Bentley #7 (Defoe 72 mins - #18), Jenas #8, Lennon #11 (Downing 10 mins - #17), Owen #10 - Captain, Smith #9 (Dyer 64 mins - #16).
Subs Not Used: Robinson, Green, Hargreaves, Parker, Nugent.
Note: Foster was in the original squad but withdrew due to injury and was replaced by Carson. Late call-ups were Taylor and Green.
Beqaj #1 (Hidi 78 mins - #12), Bulku #18, Dede #4, Haxhi #23 (Ahmataj 79 mins - #17), Rrustemi #3, Vangell #21, Duro #10 (Vrapi 65 mins - #24), Muka #20 (Murati 46 mins - #7), Skela #13 (Hyka 75 mins - #19), Berisha #11, Bushi #8 (Sinani 72 mins - #15).
Subs Not Used: Andi Lila, Altin Lila, Kapllani.
England Scorers: Smith (34 mins), Downing (37 & 58 mins)
Albania Scorer: Berisha (44 mins).
England Cautions: None
Albania Cautions: None
Referee: Andrea De Marco (Italy)