When the latest England squad was announced, it was no surprise that Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate had selected some younger players for clashes with Croatia and Spain.
England have had a dearth of creative midfielders in recent years. That meant the selection of talented young creative trio James Maddison, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount made sense.
Reliant on set pieces at the World Cup
England’s journey to the World Cup semi-final may have been a success, but their success was based on scoring goals from set pieces, rather than good creative attacking play.
The Three Lions well-worked set-piece routines saw them crowned the set piece kings in Russia. However, when it came down to controlling the midfield and creating something from open play against Croatia in the last four, the Three Lions ran out of ideas.
It was obvious to see that they lacked creativity when it really mattered. Boss Southgate did the best he could with the players he had. However, even Southgate recently admitted that he does not have the best options in midfield.
Youngsters thriving this season
Maddison, Sancho and Mount have all shown themselves to be creative players already this season. All three have also started the campaign in good fashion.
Sancho has produced six assists in just 215 minutes in the Bundesliga for Dortmund. The 18-year-old is not yet a regular for BVB, but his appearances so far for the German side surely must mean regular first-team football is not far away.
Mason Mount is an interesting player. The 19-year-old is contracted to Chelsea and spent last season on loan at Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem. This season Mount has made a bright start to the campaign during a loan spell at Championship Derby, under the tutelage of former England midfielder Frank Lampard.
Maddison has made the step-up from Championship to the Premier League with Leicester almost effortlessly. The 21-year-old has scored three times and produced two assists since his summer switch from Norwich. The attacking midfielder has also had the confidence to take control of the set pieces.
Deserve a chance in the senior team
As Gareth Southgate has admitted in recent months, the senior squad lacks creativity. The return to the first-team squad for Ross Barkley at Chelsea could help the Three Lions cause in that department.
However, the youngsters deserve their chance to shine for Southgate team. The Three Lions face Croatia on Friday night in the Nations League A, a game they are still underdogs to win.
For most, the Nations League is just a bunch of glorified friendly games. The England boss is likely to use the games as a chance to assess the players at his disposal. While it seems unlikely that any of the youngsters will start tonight’s match, they may well see action as substitutes over the next two games.
Most England fans would like Southgate to give the youngsters a chance and see if they are ready to play in the international games. With the team lacking creativity in recent years, the Three Lions have nothing to lose by giving the youngsters a chance to shine.
Will James Maddison, Jadon Sancho or Mason Mount start for England against Croatia on Friday night?