Three Lions head coach Gareth Southgate is busy shaping his thoughts on exactly who will represent England when they go head to head with Bulgaria in the next chapter of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.
Southgate has the benefit of being able to assemble a squad brimming with experience and one which also has its fair share of promising talent ready, willing and hopefully able to make the next step in their careers and add international status to their CV.
Two new faces in the squad for the Wembley Stadium showdown on Saturday (September 7) — as well as the clash against Kosovo at St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton on Tuesday (September 10) — are Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Tyrone Mings.
Wan-Bissaka is the fleet-footed defender who was recruited by Manchester United from Crystal Palace in the summer for a fee of around £60million, while Mings completed a loan deal at Aston Villa from AFC Bournemouth and then signed a permanent contract ahead of the new Premier League season for a fee in the region of £20million.
Southgate, the former Middlesbrough manager, says the addition of the two players comes after tracking their progress and plenty of discussion within the coaching set-up to decide if they were ready to make the step up.
Of former under-20 and under-21 ace Wan-Bissaka, the England chief said that he had been watched a lot last season
“and I’ve seen the same things that I saw then on the bigger stage with United. His one-against-one defending is exceptional from his work with Roy Hodgson”.
Southgate went on to praise the veteran England boss for his coaching ability which has helped Wan-Bissaka develop his game. He added:
“I think Roy is a really good coach, in particular with those areas and manipulation of the ball in tight areas.”
With central defender Mings, who made his name in the pro game with Ipswich Town after spells with non-league Yate Town and Chippenham Town, Southgate says the fact that the player has an “interesting” path to international call-up was a factor.
He said he kept tabs a lot on the player in the Championship last term and that he was keen to see how he adapted to raising his game in the top flight once Aston Villa had gained promotion. He added:
“He’s a really interesting one in that he hasn’t played that many league matches because his route to being a professional was slightly different and then his injury when he’d just moved to Bournemouth.”
The fact that Mings started life as a left-back and then switched to the middle of the backline gives him a certain versatility, which Southgate likes, and he has also pointed out that he appears to have decent qualities when it comes to leadership.
All that remains for the duo is to see if they get a chance to shine in the games coming up.