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England turn to next generation to get creative against Croatia

AFP  |  RIJEKA 

Just three months on from the bitter disappointment of losing a first semi-final for 28 years, England visit on Friday in the seeking not only revenge, but also a to a familiar shortcoming.

For all the progress made by the Three Lions in a glorious Russian summer, a familiar lack of midfield authority ultimately undid England as Croatia's and took control of their semi-final to come from a goal down in

It was a similar story when came to Wembley last month to puncture England's feel-good factor by dominating the ball in a 2-1 win. A run to the last four with the third youngest squad at raised expectations of what is to come from a richly talented generation under Gareth Southgate's tutelage.

However, Southgate has gone even younger in his search for the midfield maestro he believes England have lacked since the days of Jadon Sancho, 18, and Mason Mount, 19, who made moves to get more first team football, and James Maddison, who jumped to the Premier League, are all rewarded with a first call-up.

Sancho has lit up the since making the brave decision to turn down Pep Guardiola's pleas to keep him at Manchester City and join Borussia last year.

Compared to by his former England under-16 Dan Micciche, Sancho has more assists than any in Europe's top five leagues with nine this season, including one in

"I believe in myself, so moving to didn't faze me," said Sancho as he faced the for the first time in an England shirt. "I'm a bit tricky, direct, confident obviously. I believe in myself in one versus one situations."

- 'Technically he's brilliant' -


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Maddison and Mount aren't yet playing at that level, but they too have shunned the glamour of the top six sides in the to ensure more minutes on the field.

Wanted by as a teenager, Maddison instead moved to before joining this summer to join two members of squad, and

"I looked at the squad and saw Harry and Jamie as regulars in the England set up. I thought that is where I want to be, that is where I want to get to," said Maddison, who has scored three goals and provided two assists in eight appearances.

Mount is still a Chelsea player, but after scoring 13 goals on loan at Vitesse Arnhem last season, is enjoying another fruitful loan spell with under former England and

"He can be top, top level because he's 19 and plays with ability and quality. Technically he's brilliant," said Lampard. Mount has already shown his ability in an England shirt as he was named of the tournament in winning the 2017 Under-19

Sancho got the same award at the European Under-17 championships last year, as well as being part of the squad that won the Under-17 World Cup, although his participation was limited after being recalled by halfway through the tournament to play for the first team.

"The growth in England at the moment is crazy," added Sancho.

"There's a lot of great young players out there. They're so determined to play.

"is the greatest stage, so I hope the young players reach their potential and enjoy it too."

England have also won the 2017 Under-20 World Cup and the prestigious Under-21 Toulon tournament for the past three years. The trick for Southgate, having recently signed a new contract until 2022, is to harness that potential into a future Modric.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, October 11 2018. 09:10 IST
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