Gareth Southgate has praised England’s senior ‘professionals’ as the nation’s youngsters took centre-stage during their 4-0 Nations League victory over Iceland.
England finished their Nations League campaign with a comfortable victory over Iceland in a dead-rubber fixture at Wembley, with several of the Three Lions’ emerging players stating their case for regular inclusion in Southgate’s side.
Phil Foden starred as the Manchester City scored twice and provided an assist for Declan Rice’s opener, becoming the youngest player in England’s history to score more than once in a competitive fixture.
Chelsea‘s Mason Mount also got on the scoresheet with each of England’s goalscorers aged 21 or under, though Southgate was keen to praise his side’s experienced stars for leading an exciting crop of youngsters in an encouraging performance.
“We are very conscious of the crop of young players coming through that we think will be fabulous for England for years to come,” Southgate told his post-match press conference. “It was great for the public to get a glimpse of that.
“They were surrounded by some excellent professionals. It would have been easy for us to not perform well tonight, there was every excuse possible not to perform well, but that wasn’t the mentality of the seniors and I have to say the captain led that from the start.”
✨ Jack Grealish this season ✨
🔘 4 goals
🔘 5 big chances
🔘 2.83 xG
🔘 6 assists
🔘 19 key passes
🔘 6 big chances created
🔘 2.81 xA
— Fantasy Faithful #FPL (@FPLfaithful) November 19, 2020
Foden’s first goals for the senior side were a welcome boost for the 20-year-old following the shame of his first call-up to the England side in September, the youngster sent home alongside Manchester United‘s Mason Greenwood for breaching coronavirus protocols.
The midfielder was excluded from the next squad before returning this month, his performance against Iceland an excellent reminder of his talent and a glimpse of the invention and quality he can provide the England midfield.
Southgate admits he was ‘really pleased’ for the star following his September indiscretions and admits Foden is one of several players ‘that are going to be very exciting’ for England in the coming years.
“I’m really pleased for him and his family,” he said of the Man City man. “To have the experience he had in September was really tough for a youngster. We all make mistakes.
“It was a difficult situation to be in. You’re walking back through the door and looking at everyone’s faces and you know the last time you saw them it was complicated. It took him a few days I think to settle into the camp and start to smile a bit more and relax a bit more.
“We know what he’s capable of doing. He’s one of a few that are going to be very exciting over the next few years for England.”