Today is Jadon Sancho’s 19th birthday.
Borussia Dortmund winger Sancho reckons he can play better than he did in Friday night’s 5-0 demolition of the Czech Republic.
The lad admitted, “My one-v-ones weren’t as sharp. But I was just happy that I played in my first competitive game, and to assist the first goal.”
An injury to Rashford meant that Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea was promoted from the under-21s.
Southgate said, “We’ve found another player that we really like. We weren’t certain that he’d be able to adapt to this level, and probably we’d have given him a bit longer in the under-21s, but already he’s proved in this environment that he can more than cope. He’s a very confident boy, he has the maturity and this is going to be a fantastic week for him. I’m really pleased that he’s shown people what he’s showed us all week in training.”
The manager is a realist who is now rebuilding his squad
and he likes having humble players who set the tone.
As Southgate says, “To have such a top striker, like Harry, who has such humility and such a low ego, has a huge impression on the whole group, because at the moment he is the star player. You wouldn’t know it from the way he conducts himself, you wouldn’t know it from his application to training and the way he is disciplined with his preparation and his focus.
“Equally, that’s the same for Raheem. You see his focus in training, his preparation for those things, so for young players coming on it’s an easy equation: if I do the things those two do, there’s a good chance that I’ll get the performances that they are putting in.”
As Southgate works to develop a classier midfield he might find that the gifted Declan Rice is the missing link.
A versatile natural footballer, Dec has a lot to learn before he can establish himself as a regular starter for England. But his potential is huge and I really hope he gets 70 caps. He’s got Mark Noble talking sense to him all week and that helps.
Eric Dier is an intelligent positional player, while Jordan Henderson is a reliable motivator/vice-captain type.
Clearly, Southgate needs a group with varied but complementary abilities.
Can England win something at last?
Far too soon to say.
Montenegro will give England a harder game than the Czechs did.
Ask me again in the summer.