England manager Gareth Southgate will select his first post-World Cup squad on Thursday as the Three Lions prepare to take on Spain and Switzerland next month.
After their stunning run to the World Cup semi-finals during the summer, optimism around the national team has soared and Southgate will be eager to continue the momentum.
The match with Spain is England’s inaugural contest in the new UEFA Nations League, while the friendly with Switzerland takes the team to Leicester’s King Power Stadium as they tour the country.
Gareth Southgate is preparing to name his first post-World Cup England squad on Thursday
ENGLAND vs SPAIN
September 8 at 7.45pm, Wembley
UEFA Nations League A, Group 4
ENGLAND vs SWITZERLAND
September 11 at 8pm, Leicester City
There is a new crop of highly-talented English players emerging with international youth tournament honours already on their CVs, and Southgate may be tempted to draft them in.
Their chances have only increased with the news that Jamie Vardy and Gary Cahill have decided to take a step back from international duty.
We take a closer look at some of the young candidates for Southgate’s latest England squad.
18, Manchester City, midfielder
Already the owner of a Premier League winners medal at just 17 and a world champion with England at under-17 level, there is rightly a buzz around Manchester City’s Phil Foden.
Pep Guardiola certainly thinks highly of the teenager, hence his appearances off the bench during City’s Premier League title triumph last season, as well as two starts in the Champions League.
Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden, 18, will be hoping to earn a first England call-up
It was a breakthrough season that also included winning the best player award at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India as England lifted another trophy at youth level.
Foden started and impressed in City’s Community Shield win over Chelsea earlier this month, but he has only played eight minutes of Premier League football so far this season.
Foden is currently in the England under-19 squad but has previously trained with Southgate’s seniors and spent time with the squad out in Russia over the summer.
But it would be an exciting glimpse into the future for England fans if he was to make a cameo appearance in central midfield during the upcoming internationals.
Foden (right) was voted best player when England won the Under-17 World Cup last year
18, Borussia Dortmund, winger
Another World Cup winner at under-17 level last year, Sancho made the unexpected decision to leave Manchester City for German giants Borussia Dortmund last year in pursuit of more game time.
The 18-year-old can be satisfied with events so far, having played in 12 Bundesliga matches – seven in the starting line-up – and having contributed one goal and four assists last season.
Sancho was catching admiring glances from thge likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona before he chose Dortmund, where he assumed the No 7 shirt vacated by the Barcelona-bound Ousmane Dembele.
Sancho celebrates scoring for England against Mexico in the Under-17 World Cup last year
He featured in the group stages of the tournament in India but, as per prior agreement with his club, flew home ahead of the knockout stages. He has since played five times for the under-19 side.
The one thing that would work against Sancho for this England squad is a limited amount of game time this season – with just 13 minutes of Bundesliga action so far.
However, as Southgate will be only too aware, the right-sided winger is a very bright prospect for the future.
The 18-year-old has made just the one substitute appearance in the league this season
18, Fulham, left wing or left-back
It has been an exceptional couple of years for Sessegnon ever since he made his first-team debut for Fulham in an EFL Cup tie at Leyton Orient aged just 16 years and 81 days.
Since then, he has been converted from a left-back to a dangerous left-sided forward, and racked up 85 appearances and 23 goals for Fulham, helping them back into the Premier League.
Ryan Sessegnon celebrates Fulham’s first Premier League win – against Burnley on Sunday
Sessegnon has also helped England to European Championship success at under-19 level and has progressed to under-21 standard.
The natural next step would be a first senior England call-up and Southgate watched Fulham’s game with Burnley on Sunday, only for Sessegnon to remain on the bench until late in the contest.
That could mean another call-up at under-21 level this time around despite Sessegnon completing Fulham’s opening two Premier League games and their EFL Cup tie with Exeter City.
The teenager has taken every challenge in his young career in his stride and will certainly hold down an England place for many years to come.
Sessegnon enjoyed an exceptional season as Fulham made their Premier League return
21, Leicester City, attacking midfielder
Having joined Leicester from Norwich in a £20million deal over the summer, Maddison has wasted little time in adapting to the step up in quality.
The playmaker has been excellent in Leicester’s first few matches of the campaign, helping them to back-to-back wins over Wolves – in which he scored – and Southampton.
That form has put him in the frame for a first call-up into Southgate’s squad following three outings for the under-21 team.
James Maddison has impressed for new club Leicester City during the opening weeks
Maddison is only 21 but has a wealth of experience having played for Coventry and Norwich in the Football League, as well as Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen on loan.
England do have plenty of young attacking talents but Maddison’s stellar form could well tip the balance in his favour for the upcoming games.
If not this time, England still have matches coming up in October and November as Maddison and the others aim to make their breakthrough.
Since joining Leicester from Norwich for £20m, Maddison has made the step-up look simple