Youthful outlook for Southgate’s Three Lions

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Image Credit [BBC]

Fresh off signing a contract extension to keep him with the team until at least 2022, England manager Gareth Southgate selected his youngest England squad yet this week in what is a statement of what he hopes to breed in the next four years – a youthful team brimming with energy and creativity.

The inclusion of James Maddison is no surprise. The attacking midfielder needs no introduction to Premier League fans, having earned his place in the squad through his dazzling performances for Leicester City in recent weeks, leading to a nomination for Premier League Player of the Month after just 7 games worth of experience – scoring 3 goals in the process.

These three additions to an already improving England team are a real statement of positivity from Southgate. Maddison, Sancho and Mount have all shown signs of that creative spark that England are currently missing in midfield,

Jadon Sancho, another debutant, has been involved in the England setup for several years, being an integral part of the team that won the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup alongside his then club teammate, Manchester City’s promising youngster Phil Foden. However, Sancho and Foden have parted ways since, as the former made a brave move to the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, which has paid off so far. He is the leading assist maker in Europe this season, surely warranting a place in this England team desperate for some unpredictability in midfield.

 

Image result for jadon sancho
Promising 18 year-old Jadon Sancho was called up for the first time. Image Credit [Getty Images]
Perhaps more of a surprise inclusion, for the sake of experience rather than a place in the starting 11, Southgate has also called up Chelsea’s Mason Mount (currently on loan at Derby County). Mount has trained with the England team before, prior to the World Cup, but has never been included in the squad. His string of exciting performances for Frank Lampard’s side, albeit at Championship level, has enabled him to force his way into the first team.

These three additions to an already improving England team are a real statement of positivity from Southgate. Maddison, Sancho and Mount have all shown signs of that creative spark that England are currently missing in midfield, and – as they are aged 21, 18 and 19 respectively – this is a promising move for the future, something that Southgate will have in mind given his commitment to another two major tournaments with the national team.

Only time will tell whether his selection is successful, but the manager seems to be trying something previous managers have not. He is laying the foundations early, integrating exciting prospects into a team with experience of some success at this year’s World Cup. Being surrounded by players such as Kane, Walker and Henderson is only going to benefit the new boys, and ultimately the cohesion of this reinvigorated team under Gareth Southgate’s energetic leadership. It’s been a positive week for the England setup, and the future certainly looks bright.

Rob Kirk