Gareth Southgate's squad selection heralds a new era for England
Gareth Southgate appears to be committed to bringing through players from the U-21 and U-20 teams into the senior squad. Most importantly, he is selecting them as a group rather than just calling up an individual which helps keep some of the chemistry from their time in the youth teams. Although, their selection is still heavily based on their club form and game time.
Tammy Abraham, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jordan Pickford are all set to start against Germany. All three of these players were key parts of the U-21 team with Loftus-Cheek, unfortunately, missing the 2017 Euro U-21 tournament due to injury, but he was the player of the tournament in the Toulon tournament, which England won the year before. Abraham and Loftus-Cheek are clearly reaping the benefits of moving away from Chelsea even if it was on loan.
Some would argue that these players would never have been called up if there hadn't been injuries to key players. This may be true, but Southgate has made a point of rewarding these young players for their club form rather than calling up older players such as Jermain Defoe and Daniel Sturridge. He also probably has their impressive performances in youth teams, during the summer, in mind, but he has made a clear commitment to picking players who are playing for their clubs.
Southgate has also picked Demarai Gray, Dominic Solanke and Dominic Calvert-Lewin to join the senior squad after their U-21 European Championship qualifier in Ukraine. They are likely to be given starts against Brazil. This is excellent man-management from Southgate because he is still ensuring that they continue their commitments with the U-21 squad while also rewarding them with a place in the senior team.
He is also mixing this with call-ups for older players who have impressed domestically such as Ashley Young and Jack Cork. Jamie Vardy and Jake Livermore have also kept their places in the senior squad. Therefore, this shows that Southgate isn't predisposed against older players even though he has experience with the younger players because of his time as U-21 manager.
Jack Wilshere was denied a call-up due to his lack of game time. This shows that Southgate is being consistent with his insistence that being a starter for your club team is a clear qualification for a call-up. Previously, Wilshere would have probably been brought in due to England needing a central midfielder of his ability because of Harry Winks' injury. However, Southgate has shown that he won't give in to these easy temptations with Cork being rewarded for his consistency at Burnley.
It has to be acknowledged that these are friendlies so Southgate can afford to take more risks than usual. His squad selection for the World Cup will be the best indicator for whether he is genuinely committed to promoting youth. However, opportunities like this are great for morale because it shows the players in the youth teams that there is a genuine route into the senior squad. This won't be lost on the U-17 World Cup winners who are parading their trophy at Wembley prior to the Germany game.
Hopefully, Southgate is rewarded for his faith with performances of the highest quality against both Germany and Brazil.