Manager Gareth Southgate admitted he had one eye on the future when handing uncapped duo Harry Maguire and Nathaniel Chalobah call-ups in the first England squad since Wayne Rooney’s international retirement.
Southgate named former Hull City and Sheffield United defender Maguire – now at Leicester City – and Watford midfielder Chalobah in a 28-man squad to face Malta and Slovakia in World Cup qualifiers on September 1 and 4.
Rooney had been asked to join up with the squad, but instead decided to call time on his Three Lions career at the age of 31.
Southgate believes they will continue to be strong without the Everton man and is confident his younger team can thrive with some influence from playing alongside the more senior players.
Southgate said: “In March and June the squad have been together without (Rooney) so, in that sense, these guys have got on with that and it’s the opportunity now for us to look forward, look to the future.
“You can see by the squad we’ve named, some younger players coming in, who we’ve been looking at for a while and we want to see that. We have to have an eye on developing the future.
He’s a defender that’s very comfortable with the ball and that’s the profile of international football. I think he’s already adjusted really well at Leicester to a new club.Gareth Southgate on calling up former Hull and Sheffield United defender Harry Maguire.
“I did see the value of having some senior players around that. The likes of Jermain Defoe for example, who can help nurture some younger players as well as play a part – but equally we have to look forward.”
Southgate is relishing the chance to see some more of Maguire as injury prevented him being called up for the summer internationals – the World Cup qualifying draw against Scotland and the 3-2 friendly defeat by France.
“I thought his performances for Hull were very good,” said Southgate. “He’s a defender that’s very comfortable with the ball and that’s the profile of international football.
“I think he’s already adjusted really well at Leicester to a new club. He plays with great composure (and) can defend the ball in the box.
“So I think it’s a really good opportunity for us to have a look at him and for him to get a feel of being around the senior squad and we can assess how he goes in training and that sort of thing.
“As you say, we were looking at him towards the end of last season, but he wasn’t really fully fit towards the end of the year.”
Southgate has also named four goalkeepers in his panel, with Everton’s Jordan Pickford joining Joe Hart, Jack Butland and Tom Heaton.