The summer of 2018 will be remembered by England fans for many years to come; it was the summer in which many supporters once again fell in love with the national team.
Sure the football wasn’t hugely entertaining but that didn’t matter. The Three Lions were winning World Cup knockout games – something they hadn’t managed in over a decade – and were winning penalty shoot-outs, a feat not achieved in 22 years.
Gareth Southgate’s side were halted in the semi-finals by Croatia yet the defeat didn’t hurt as badly as previous tournament exits. For a new dawn had begun.
However, in the light of day there is an acknowledgement that England are still far from the finished product. The 2-1 defeat to Spain at Wembley in the Nations League on Saturday night only highlighted that.
There is a gap that needs to be closed to the elite of the international game, and one of the key aspects in doing that is by having a midfield that is capable of dictating and deciding a game.
Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard are both fine players, yet their skillset comes to the fore in transitional situations. Jordan Henderson, meanwhile, isn’t, no matter how much he tries, suited to being the midfield pivot.
So who can Southgate turn to? We have identified five uncapped midfielders the England boss should soon be calling up and giving an opportunity to.
They may not be the definitive answer but they certainly have the intelligence, poise and technique to help the Three Lions thrive.