Gareth Southgate revealed the decision to pick Kyle Walker as part of a back three was due to his relationship with John Stones at Manchester City.
Jesse Lingard's first international goal fired England to a 1-0 friendly victory over the Netherlands - their first since Euro 1996 - in Amsterdam on Friday.
Southgate's team selection raised a few eyebrows as Walker played on the right of the back three with Kieran Trippier on the right flank.
Explaining the reasoning behind the positional switch, he said: "He has the attributes to play the position really well.
"You need players that are comfortable at defending in wide areas and used to using the ball in those areas. He's a fantastic athlete, so he added more pace to our defence.
"When I see him play for Manchester City, he ends up in that area anyway - we knew his relationship with John Stones is one that is worked on daily, so we knew it would be a strength."
The result was no more than England deserved as they ended a run of seven games without a win over the Dutch - even without striker Harry Kane, who was missing with an ankle ligament injury.
Southgate played Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Lingard and their link-up play was impressive.
The England manager was delighted with the fluidity of his attacking trio.
"Harry Kane is an outstanding player and any team in world football would want his goalscoring ability - we've had to cope without him in the past," he said.
"Who knows - you might have games in the future when that is going to be the case. It's important we have options in those areas and Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling were a real threat with their pace.
"We played with a real energy and vibrancy."