With Euro 2020 delayed until the summer of 2021, England manager Gareth Southgate may be the man to prosper from it the most across Europe’s top nations.
Top youngsters looked likely to miss out on the tournament, with breakthrough seasons not quite enough to push them through into the senior squad so quickly for a major tournament. Players like Mason Greenwood, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka were all among the better performers following the resumption of the league post-lockdown, with key players Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford able to return from injury too.
Had Euro 2020 taken place when it was supposed to, the likelihood is none of those players would have been involved. Danny Ings would have been battling with Tammy Abraham to lead the line up front, while depth would have been an issue as options wore thin. But now, Southgate has another full year of football to watch to be able to pick through his selections and team.
The likes of those mentioned above will enjoy, but also an extra season of regular football for established squad members like Jadon Sancho and Trent Alexander-Arnold who are still young, can do them no harm either.
Southgate will have the opportunity to continue experimenting with tactics and systems to suit these young players, while others such as Jack Grealish and Kalvin Phillips will have the chance to continue impressing the manager following their first call-ups to the senior squad this time around.
Jordan Pickford will probably lose his spot as England No.1, Trent Alexander-Arnold will cement his place as the starting right-back while Joe Gomez should be able to break in as a regular alongside Harry Maguire. In midfield Declan Rice is likely to be a regular starter alongside Jordan Henderson, with players like Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Harry Winks competing for the spots also. In attack England are stacked and no longer need to look for over-performing talents like Ings and Abraham when they can use young talent like Greenwood as an alternative for Kane. Callum Hudson-Odoi could have a breakthrough season this year to compete on the wings with Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho.
The options England have now are the best they’ve had since their last ‘golden generation’ that had the likes of Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and co. all in the same line-up.
Southgate now must prove to the fans and the FA that he is right man for the job. After “successfully” managing the Under-21’s he was promoted for his willingness to create a pathway. He’s so far kept to that, but now needs continue to do so and bring results with it.
A successful Nations League tournament could be the boost this young England side needs to be able to breed success for next summer’s Euro 2020 tournament.