Gareth Southgate says England's next generation ready to shine against Croatia and Spain
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 12/10/18 6:19am
Gareth Southgate says England's next generation have proved to him in training this week they are ready to make an impact against Croatia and Spain.
Southgate has selected two teenagers, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount, for this week's UEFA Nations League matches, while Leicester midfielder James Maddison is also in the senior squad for the first time.
Watford's Nathaniel Chalobah is another hoping to win his first cap, while Leicester's Ben Chilwell and Tottenham's Harry Winks are aiming to win their second.
Despite their relative inexperience, Southgate insists he has faith in each and every one to help England get positive results as they seek their first points in the Nations League.
"We are here to try and get a result so the team we play will be a team we believe in," Southgate said in Rijeka ahead of the game against Croatia on Friday evening, live on Sky Sports Main Event.
"There is nobody in the squad that is here that we are not thinking of putting into the team.
"It is not experimentation. They are players we believe in. Okay, they are relatively inexperienced at the highest level but players we have enjoyed working with and they have shown in training this week they can handle this level.
"We will pick the team that we think is the best one to win the game."
No fans will be present for the clash in Rijeka due to Croatia serving the second part of their two-game punishment imposed by UEFA after a swastika was marked on their pitch before a Euro 2016 Qualifier against Italy.
The away fixture for England will be played behind closed doors, meaning only players and staff from each side will be present.
Southgate admits it will be a "strange experience" but says England's fans are the ones he feels for.
"It is a shame for our travelling fans who were brilliant for us all summer and so many of whom have not missed an England game for years. So that is unfortunate for them in particular," Southgate said.
"It means Croatia don't get the energy that a home support can give you in those moments when you are under pressure as a team.
"So it will be different definitely. Whether it is an advantage, who knows?"