Ken Early: Southgate’s toughest task will be harnessing England's attacking talent

All the tournament-winning sides of recent years have had a clearly defined structure and identity

Gareth Southgate will need his captain Harry Kane to be at his best for England this summer. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Gareth Southgate will need his captain Harry Kane to be at his best for England this summer. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Of all the football trends nobody saw coming, the most significant for Euro 2020 must be the emergence of England, a nation of 56 million people which until recently was struggling to produce one competent left-footed player per generation, as Europe’s premier talent volcano.

New English talent is coming through the ranks so fast it’s hard to keep up. 13 of the 23 players who went to the 2018 World Cup have already been phased out. It feels like it was only five minutes ago that Dele Alli was the player of the future, and now he’s yesterday’s man, rendered obsolete at 25 by a new generation of players born in the 21st century - Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, Jude Bellingham. The resulting squad, notoriously adorned with a couple of jewels plundered from the Irish youth teams, is the second-youngest in the tournament, yet it is also loaded with top-level experience: half the players have competed in a European club final in the last two years. Transfermarkt.com values England at a collective €1.25 billion euros, almost 25 per cent more than their nearest rival, France.

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