Just eight weeks after their first appearance in the World Cup semi-finals since 1990, England manager Southgate will be back on the touchline for Saturday’s UEFA Nations League opener against Spain at Wembley.
Southgate has opted for a young squad, with 28-year-old Fabian Delph the oldest member after Gary Cahill, Jamie Vardy and Ashley Young were ushered out of the group that went to the World Cup.
“We think we’ve got a strong squad. We’re three games into a new season and we looked through a lot of different players over the last couple of years,” Southgate said.
“We decided that because of the way we want to play and the type of players we want to work with that there are some guys that didn’t fit that model.
“And so now we’re into a fresh cycle of probably not going back to players that have been in before and that we’ve had a good look at.
“So the next group that we start to look at are probably coming through our younger age groups.”
Looking ahead to England’s Euro 2020 qualifying fixtures, former Under-21 coach Southgate plans to allow more young players to follow in the footsteps of Marcus Rashford, John Stones, Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and company.
“There’s a couple of others that are still young, that still have room for growth – the Chalobahs, Will Hughes, Ross Barkleys – but I don’t want to bring them in now, three days into the camp,” he said.
“I’d rather do that when we feel they’re ready, we feel that we’re looking at them on merit and also we really like some of the age groups below and I think they’re quite likely to be the guys that push.
“But when you’re promoting young players you’ve got to be really careful about how quickly you do that because you want to give them game time, you want to bring them in, have them train and adapt to training.”
Southgate’s focus on youth does not appear to bode well for the likes of Ryan Bertrand, Joe Hart, Chris Smalling, Aaron Cresswell and Jake Livermore.
Bournemouth frontman Callum Wilson, 26, has a chance to break through down the line, but 30-year-old Troy Deeney’s Watford performances are set to go without reward.
“I think Callum is another player we worked with in the under-21s, so we know a lot about Callum,” Southgate told Sky Sports.
“He’s certainly one we have to keep monitoring.
“I think Troy is a player who really suits the way that Watford play and I’m a big fan of his.
“But I think that we play slightly differently, and I think that, for me, the next forward players that I see that should be challenging are some of the younger ones.”