Three more young guns may face Brazil as Southgate goes looking for a new England
Gareth Southgate has added three more uncapped players from England’s junior ranks for Tuesday’s friendly against Brazil with call-ups to the senior squad for Dominic Solanke, Lewis Cook and Angus Gunn.
The England manager said on Friday night that he anticipated there would be some who would drop out the senior squad and after the successful debuts for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy Abraham, Jordan Pickford and Joe Gomez, Southgate is keen to give chances to more of those who have made an impression for England over a successful summer in the junior tournaments.
England will face the top-ranked Fifa nation at Wembley with one of the most inexperienced squads in memory but with enthusiasm growing to see what the young players can do following victories at the Under-17s and Under-20s World Cups and the Under-19s European championships. Phil Jones, who came off on Friday night after 25 minutes with a thigh injury, has left the squad.
Cook, 20, was the captain of England’s victorious Under-20s World Cup squad and operates in midfield, although he has failed to secure a regular place in the Bournemouth side this season. Solanke, also 20, like Loftus-Cheek and Abraham, came through Chelsea’s academy and joined Liverpool in the summer frustrated by his lack of first team game-time at Stamford Bridge.
The striker scored for the Under-21s against Ukraine on Friday night and his manager Aidy Boothroyd said that the player was ready to make the leap to the senior team. It was originally Southgate’s plan to call up Demarai Gray and Dominic Calvert-Lewin but instead he is strengthening the positions in which the team might potentially lose players.
Gunn, 21, is the established Under-21s goalkeeper, a Manchester City junior
and the son of former Scotland international Bryan Gunn. He will be in as cover for Jack Butland, who broke his finger in training this week.
After Friday’s match Southgate gave a strong indication that he would favour younger and less experienced players for the last two friendlies in March against Italy and Holland before selecting his squad for Russia in May. Roy Hodgson took a similar approach before the 2014 World Cup, selecting Luke Shaw ahead of Ashley Cole.
Southgate said: “I’ve got to assess who are the players that I think could play at the highest level. They might not be 100 per cent ready now but who do we want to invest our time in?
“The likes of Ruben and Gomez, when he came on, and Jordan, have shown some really good qualities. Harry Winks is the same. We can start to look at some of these guys and see what is possible. Some of them might not be ready for next summer, but there are exciting young English players coming through.”
He said that he believed rare talents like Loftus-Cheek would not go underappreciated in the modern era, as the likes of Glenn Hoddle, John Barnes and Paul Scholes once did, because they can be better accommodated nowadays. “The tactical systems we will play, Ruben or Dele [Alli] might not fit into a 4-4-2, but now we could fit those sorts of players into different systems. Some of the players [in the past] you talk about would have flourished in a game like we had against Germany.
“But also what I like is that one moment we are talking about Harry [Kane] or Dele. There is Marcus [Rashford], Ruben. We are not just hanging our hat on one player. It means the pressure will be shared. You’ve got [John] Stones who I thought was excellent. So collectively I think they can withstand losing a couple of players if we get injuries.”
Target man: Dominic Solanke scored for England’s Under-21s on Friday night