Gareth Southgate has announced his latest England squad with six uncapped players amongst his selection. Could we therefore be seeing the rise of the youth?
With crunch away games against Croatia and Spain in UEFA Nations League, this squad is quite bold with a real shakeup in midfield so just how strong is each area of the field and how could they lineup?
As usual, this goalkeeper selection isn’t a surprise although four is probably bit too excessive.
Bettinelli’s inclusion is definitely a top decision because despite Fulham’s defensive woes, the 26 year-old has been a bright spark in preventing heavier beatings with his many saves. I however don’t see him getting game time in either of these two matches given how important winning both games are if England are to reach Nations League Finals.
Butland, McCarthy and Pickford meanwhile are just as solid as ever but I would give McCarthy a start because he has just been exceptional for Southampton unlike the other two at Stoke and Everton.
This selection definitely bares no surprises with a strong selection across the entire defensive roles.
Partnership wise, I can see the central defence being formed by Stones, Gomez and Maguire with Trippier and Shaw manning the flanks like they did last month but in all, there is virtually nothing to complain about here.
Compared to last month, this is quite a hugely different midfield as out goes; Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard and Ruben Loftus Cheek to name but a few and in comes Mason Mount, Ross Barkley, Harry Winks and Nathaniel Chalobah.
I therefore wonder if Southgate is planning to shake up his formation and tactics with two central midfielders involved.
After a period in wilderness through injury, Barkley and Winks have definitely rediscovered their best and particularly when not in possession.
Both have 100% tackle success and aren’t afraid to recover the ball even if means duelling or going one on one with members of opposition, which will be a real positive against both Croatia and Spain.
Chalobah meanwhile is a surprise name given that he has played just once in league this season but definitely will benefit from this experience even if he doesn’t feature in either game.
Mason Mount is an interesting decision because he has impressed for Derby under ex England star – Frank Lampard, so will be ready if takes Lampard’s advice on board.
Where he fits into the side really depends on what type of formation Southgate uses because this selection suggests we could see some tweaks.
This midfield selection ultimately has given England a sense of mystery because its difficult to predict what Southgate has got planned.
The absence of attacking midfielders does suggest that we could very well be seeing a front three or even two wingers playing behind the lone striker up front.
With Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane struggling up front as a pair finishing wise, perhaps we could see a lone striker here with Kane up front and Sterling on the right wing.
As for left wing, it could really be any of Marcus Rashford, James Maddison or Jadon Sancho.
I however can see Maddison starting because he brings more energy down the flank in terms of creativity unlike Rashford and Sancho tends to fare better as an impact sub, with his five club assists in Bundesliga all coming from off the bench.
In fact, Rashford and Danny Welbeck are probably going to be backup strikers to Kane with possibility of wing if required by looks of things.
My only complaint though is that perhaps Southgate could of given someone else like Callum Wilson, Jay Rodriguez or Dwight Gayle a chance ahead of Welbeck, who feels like a box ticking in terms of including players from all the big teams.
Either way, this is a fantastic selection of strikers to choose from depending on tactics and formation.
Tactics wise, this is tough to work out because there are so many possibilities with one formation standing out to me as something that would be creative yet challenging to pull off for a full match.
With this formation, the wingers and fullbacks can easily track back when the opposition attack whilst maintaining positions in central defence and midfield. It would therefore allow England to be more secure at the back and reduce our tendency to concede.
Attack wise, they would be able to pass the ball all over pitch and stretch Croatia or Spain, hopefully creating space for Kane and others to meet crosses in the box or play some through balls if coming down middle of pitch.
Admittedly, this is probably complex and risky but with our midfield selection, this is probably a decent formation which would make the team stronger.