By 90Min
October 12, 2018

Gareth Southgate's want for developing an England squad that works for both now and the future has been well documented since his appointment in November 2016, with the former Middlesbrough boss' bold call to take a team that was the third-youngest to the World Cup paying off with a fourth-placed finish. 

His latest squad ahead of upcoming Nations League games against Croatia and Spain is again testament to a resolute faith in youth, naming six uncapped players for the clashes, with Lewis Dunk and Marcus Bettinelli the oldest at 26, while Nathaniel Chalobah, James Maddison and Mason Mount are aged 23, 21 and 19 respectively.

The six selection however has been the most talked about in the shape of 18-year-old Jadon Sancho, whose form for Borussia Dortmund earned him his call-up, and despite his age, should be considered by Southgate to start at least one of the games during the international break. 

After an impressive debut season in Germany during 2017/18, scoring once and providing four assists in 12 Bundesliga games, Sancho's inclusion in the latest England squad is purely down to his form at the beginning of this season, which has been nothing short of phenomenal. 


Sancho already has one goal and six assists - the most assists in Europe's top five leagues - in the Bundesliga this season, despite six of his seven league appearances coming from the bench, as his performances have helped Dortmund top the table under Lucien Favre - a coach who has helped nurture the talents of Marco Reus and Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the past.


Compare his attacking output to the rest of England's forward-thinking players, he trumps the entire cohort, with the next best being Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, who each have a combined total of six league goals and assists, helping justify Sancho's selection. 

His involvement will certainly be a welcome one for England, as Southgate looks to add some much-needed creativity into his side, following comments after their 2-1 defeat to Spain

believing the country have struggled to create a 'unique talent' since Paul Gascoigne.


Since the beginning of the 2018 World Cup, England have scored 14 goals in nine games - six of which came against Panama - of which just five have come from open play, suggesting an over-reliance on set-pieces, whereas all of Sancho's eight assists this season - six in the league 

and one in both the Champions League and DFB-Pokal - have come from open play. 


While Sancho plays in a different position to Gascoigne, usually operating from the left wing, that's not to say that he cannot have a direct influence when it comes to creating chances for the Three Lions from wide areas with his pace, direct dribbling and end product all skills that can enhance England's attacking threat. 

TF-Images/GettyImages

Despite the excitement surrounding the prospect of Sancho making his debut for England during this international break, people will point to the fact that he's still just 18 and worry over exposing him to 'too much too soon'. However, his age should be celebrated rather than deemed a sticking point.


At 17, after helping England's U17 side to World Cup success, he opted against staying at Pep Guardiola's Manchester City in search of regular football, which came in the shape of Borussia Dortmund, carrying with that the challenges of adapting to a new environment, although it's a decision that's been truly vindicated. 


There are also current examples that point to blooding Sancho into the England squad as soon as possible, the best being Kylian Mbappe, who at 19, a year older than Sancho, has already won two Ligue 1 titles and a World Cup, while earning 25 caps for France since his debut in 2017, scoring ten goals, proving the old adage: if you're good enough, you're old enough.

Even closer to the England squad, players such as Marcus Rashford, and more recently Trent Alexander-Arnold, have embraced their opportunity in the senior squad following their exploits at club level, as Sancho hopes to be latest youngster to command a permanent place in Southgate's squad long-term.


Ahead of England's Nations League game against Croatia, Sancho admitted he was "surprised" with his international call-up, citing his lack of experience, however he's there on merit as he now looks to replicate his form at Die Schwarz Gelben with the Three Lions.


Sancho's bravery in the early stages of his career have been duly rewarded so far, and perhaps it's now Southgate's turn to be brave and start the 18-year-old against either Croatia or Spain, or even both, as he's already proven he can thrive when given the opportunity.

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