Last Updated: 22/03/19 12:04pm
Gareth Southgate is “solely” responsible for the current crop of youngsters being given a chance in the England team, according to former England defender Danny Mills.
England are expected to have a youthful look when they face the Czech Republic in their opening European Qualifier at Wembley on Friday night.
Southgate is planning to give 18-year-old Jadon Sancho his first competitive start following Marcus Rashford’s withdrawal from the squad on Thursday, Sky Sports News understands.
Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is also 18, could make his England debut despite the fact that he is yet to start a Premier League game.
Speaking on Sky Sports News, Mills said the younger generation is benefiting from Southgate’s philosophy of giving youth a chance.
“It’s solely down to Gareth,” said Mills. “I think that was his remit when he came in, having known all those players through the youth system, through the U21s, knowing their abilities.
“His only issue was they haven’t played enough football but now you’ve got all these young players like Rashford and Sancho starting to get regular games and coming to the fore.
“He’s given them a chance. With this new freedom, they can go out and express themselves and actually it’s quite refreshing to see an England team wanting to play good, exciting football.”
Sancho has already won three caps and he started against the USA in November’s friendly.
He has also established himself as a first-team regular for Borussia Dortmund having left Manchester City in 2017 and Mills says the teenager’s success will encourage other talented youngsters to move abroad to gain valuable experience.
“What it has shown is a shift in English football, younger players looking to go abroad,” added Mills.
“We once said: Are they good enough? Are they technically good enough to go and play in the European leagues? The younger generation now are proving that.
“They want to play football, they want to play week in week out and if that’s not necessarily in the Premier League they’re happy to do it abroad and they’re still be rewarded and I think that is very important.”