England boss Gareth Southgate making most of untested youth players, says Sir Geoff Hurst
By Jonathan Nagioff
Last Updated: 05/09/19 2:35pm
England manager Gareth Southgate is getting the most out of the small pool of youth talent available to him, says World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst.
Southgate has called up four uncapped players for the European Qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo, including 20-year-old Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount and Leicester's 22-year-old playmaker James Maddison.
Manchester United right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 21, was also selected for the first time but was forced to pull out of the squad on Tuesday with a back injury.
Hurst - scorer of a famous hat-trick against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final - says Southgate should be given credit for promoting young English talent, which he says was not common during his playing days.
"In our time, you would have had to come through the club system and play maybe two or three years, perhaps longer as I did, to get recognised for the national team," Hurst said.
"Today, of course, we are picking players for England who have hardly kicked a ball - and I think he (Southgate) has had to do that because there is less of a pool to pick from.
"But he has shown he can do that and be successful, by bringing forward these young players, unusually, who have hardly kicked a ball playing in the Premier League on a regular basis.
"In many respects, that is quite a remarkable achievement."
Since Southgate succeeded Sam Allardyce as England manager in 2016, the Three Lions have finished fourth at the 2018 World Cup and third at this summer's Nations League finals.
Hurst says England have made impressive progress in such a short space of time under him.
"It has been a tremendous journey in a fairly short time under Gareth Southgate and his staff," Hurst added.
"It is quite clear the management of the national side is absolutely vitally important.
"The players are all talking (together), you can see the relationship and the guys talking about how they feel playing for England.
"It is quite clear there is a very good sense of teamwork and camaraderie going on, which in many respects had been a key issue at our time and still is today."
England continue their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign against Bulgaria at Wembley on Saturday, before hosting Kosovo on Tuesday.