England Under-21s manager Gareth Southgate is proud to see the likes of Saido Berahino proving the doubters wrong.
A miserable summer for the national teams led to serious questions about the state of English football.
The under-20s failed to win a match at their World Cup after the under-21 side lost all three of their matches at the European Championship in Israel.
The latter performance saw Stuart Pearce replaced at the helm by Southgate, who was quick to defend England’s young talent.
It appears he might just be right, with the likes of Ravel Morrison, Ross Barkley and Berahino already coming to prominence this season. The latter’s progress has been particularly marked, shining for both the under-21s and West Brom, for whom he scored the winner at Manchester United recently.
“I am delighted for him because I worked with him at the Under-20s World Cup a couple of years ago and he was a super lad to work with,” said Southgate of Berahino.
“You want to see the players you are working with progressing and doing well.”
Southgate is pleased that the number of his squad playing regular first-team football is increasing, with that figure rising from a third to two-thirds in the last month alone.
He expects that figure to rise further as more players head to Football League clubs on loan, although that may not include Wilfried Zaha.
Manchester United forked out £15m to bring the winger in from Crystal Palace, but he has yet to appear for David Moyes’s side except in the Community Shield and during their pre-season tour of Australia and the Far East.
“I think it is just a situation where he is getting used to a new club and a different style of play,” added Southgate.
“I am sure in time he will be an asset for Manchester United, but I guess everything there with the new manager and everything, everybody is getting used to a new way of working.
“Wilf has only just arrived there and I think from his point of view it is important the new manager can see what he is about.”