Darren Gough: The youthful exuberance of Southgate’s England makes them exciting to watch

England's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Nations League match at Benito Villamarin Stadium, Seville. (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire)
England's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Nations League match at Benito Villamarin Stadium, Seville. (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire)
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I HEARD Kevin Keegan say that no players excited him in this young England football squad ahead of the Spain game – but I was hugely excited by a lot of things.

With the young players brought in like Jadon Sancho, Mason Moult, James Maddison, Nathaniel Chalobah, Harry Winks, Joe Gomez and Ben Chilwell – alongside Ross Barkley coming back after a two-year absence – how could you not be excited about England?

Looking at it now, would it bother anyone who starts at left-back? There’s Chilwell, Luke Shaw and Danny Rose. Or at right wing-back where there’s Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

We have six players for those two positions. And now with Gomez’s display in Seville, there’s another central defensive option.

I think when we play a back three, it will be John Stones, Gomez and Harry Maguire.

Looking at the game, Spain were the better ‘footballing’ team. But England were clinical, despite not having much of the ball.

Spain's Sergio Ramos goes down injured as England's Eric Dier protests during the Nations League match at Benito Villamarin Stadium, Seville. (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire)

Spain's Sergio Ramos goes down injured as England's Eric Dier protests during the Nations League match at Benito Villamarin Stadium, Seville. (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire)

With the front three of Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane, how can that not excite you with their pace and movement? Kane sacrificed himself to create space. It was brilliant to watch. I stayed up until 2.30am to watch it in Sri Lanka and would not do that for many football matches!

It was a competitive game and I was so pleased for Sterling after getting so much rubbish in the World Cup. I always backed him all the way and still do.

There is an obsession about possession statistics, but Monday night showed that you do not need to have the ball all of the time to win football matches. When you have it, be clinical.

Against the lower-ranked teams, I think England will play three at the back to create more opportunites. Gareth Southgate has now learned his lessons from the World Cup and against the better teams who will have possession, he will play four at the back with Eric Dier sitting in there almost as a fifth defender.

I was so pleased for Sterling after getting so much rubbish in the World Cup. I always backed him all the way and still do.

Darren Gough

I think Southgate is gradually understanding what he needs to do as an England manager.