By 90Min
September 08, 2018

'Oh god, not another international break'.

Even after Gareth Southgate took us all on that journey across Russia, some fans still lack a connection to international football it seems. 

Ironically, the people complaining about the interruption to the Premier League schedule now are the probably same individuals who could be seen showering everyone within a 10-metre radius in beer every time the Three Lions scored in Russia. 

Admittedly, the thought of England playing friendlies against the likes of Switzerland and Lithuania during the Premier League pause does fail to whet the appetite. However, for once, UEFA have recognised the pleas from those supporters unhappy with the European international scene, and after years of planning revealed the Nations League which will essentially fill in the gaps that the World Cup and the European Championships leave every two summers out of four. 

While the prospect of more competitive game time for internationals is good enough reason to cheer for the new tournament, the added prospect of seeing Gareth Southgate blood in youth in real games that matter - with the added prospect for revenge - gives Three Lions fans every right to be excited about this new opportunity for silverware.

GLYN KIRK/GettyImages

Southgate has made a point of introducing young talents into the senior setup throughout his time as England boss with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold among others all given the chance to impress.

Games in the UEFA Nations League will do a lot more good than harm for these players. The competitive edge to matches and experience playing in England's first team is a dream for players around leaving their teens and hitting their early twenties. Friendlies simply do not help players enough in the long run, especially when the group only meet up and train together for short bursts throughout the year, before dispersing back to their respected clubs ready for the Premier League to get underway again.

Now however those young players will now get to test themselves against the very best that world football has to offer on the international stage.

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With England being drawn in their UEFA Nations League group against the likes of Spain and Croatia, points are now up for grabs against the stiffest of competition. It is a great opportunity for Southgate to make the most of his squad and use the momentum of Russia to great effect.

The England manager fully understands what it's like to play for his country, he has acknowledged through his own playing career the pressure that the badge holds. Having worked within England's youth development system, his appointment as manager made perfect sense. He has brought in players into the first team that he had in his U-21 side, chemistry is key in modern football and Southgate has proven that.

The challenges that the Nations League will bring can only ameliorate the quality of this England side, and the opportunity to beat the likes of Spain and Croatia and to go on to win the tournament in it's first outing will be a big statement as to how far these group of players have come since the dark days of losing to Iceland in Euro 2016.

Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

So, out with the old and in the new. It stands to reason that this new philosophy that Southgate has adopted should be honoured for years to come. Getting to the semi-finals of a World Cup after being completely written off by the British media will only bring confidence and ambition to Southgate and what he can get his side, aided by new young talents with competitive game time to shine in, to produce.

England have a genuine chance of winning Euro 2020, despite what their critics may think. They put up a valiant fight against Croatia and on another day might've won. 

That day is near as they will face Croatia again on 12 October in Rijeka. A spot of Nations League revenge is in order. Surely no England fans will be rueing the international break then should England triumph.

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