Gareth Southgate insists England’s next generation of kids are “fearless” and will be ready to win the Euros.
England boss Southgate finds himself with a rich vein of young talent coming through with the emergence of Phil Foden at international level on top of Mason Mount, Bukayo Saka, Declan Rice and Jason Sancho.
That comes on top of the likes of Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford who are older but just beginning their international careers, while teenager Jude Bellingham has already played for England at just 17.
It means England now have one of the most exciting squads in Europe and Southgate believes their youthful enthusiasm and desire is a huge motivating factor for success.
While the pressure and expectation levels have weighed heavily in the past, Southgate insists the likes of Foden, Saka and Bellingham play with freedom and never worry about being failures.
Southgate said: “Generally speaking young people have less fear. They have more belief in what is possible. I think they are allowed more freedom than we were when we were younger and each generation increases that and loosens those strings a bit.
“There is a balance with that because they still need guidance and still need good role models around them and the senior players help that happen.
“When you say how comfortable young players look, that is a great credit to the senior players.
“They allow them to express themselves but they demand that respect. The young players have found a nice balance.
“I was just speaking to Jude Bellingham before he left and he had that perfectly. He’s come in with humility, he’s grown in confidence on the pitch but players respected him because he’s come in and been respectful of them.
“That is the environment we’ve got and we’ve always wanted to create an environment where players can come in and express themselves on the pitch and play the way they do for their clubs.”
Southgate built his last team for the 2018 World Cup when they reached the semi finals but that group has split up as Jamie Vardy and Ashley Young retired from international duty. Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli dropped down the pecking order and a new wave is coming through.
But Southgate believes the survivors from that set-up – the likes of Harry Kane, Harry Maguire, Eric Dier, Kyle Walker and Jordan Pickford – will give them a nice mix with special youngsters like Foden.
City starlet Foden, 20, was the eye catching performer against Iceland as he scored twice, provided an assist and, once he had relaxed into the game, just shone playing his own game.
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Southgate was always confident that one of England’s best young talents would reach his potential even if he has had to be patient for his chance at City. Southgate added: “We’ve known since he was 15 what an exciting player he is. Of course with the Under-17s who won the WC he was terrific.
“He will have been frustrated with the game time at City but of course during that time he was working with a wonderful coach and playing with top, top, top level players every day.
“He is a hugely exciting player. He should only continue to improve but like all of our young players that is in their hands as well, it doesn’t just happen, you have to continue working every day and have the right mentality.”