Gareth Southgate took over the reins of the England Under-21 set-up from the axed Stuart Pearce in the summer and began his tenure with a 1-0 win over Moldova and a 1-1 draw in Finland in the Euro 2015 qualifiers.
The Young Lions travel to San Marino on Thursday night before taking on Lithuania the following Tuesday at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road, and the former Middlesbrough manager was delighted with the group he assembled.
'We have a lot of players with great potential. This time last month, only a third were playing first-team football. Now, it's two thirds with some on loan and some breaking into Premier League teams. It's great for them and their confidence,' he told the FA’s official website.
'Players train all week and want to play at the end of the week, so it's very frustrating for a young player if you don't have that release of a game; that exam at the end of the week. With this age group, it's not crucial that they're playing Premier League football, they just need to be playing competitive football where there's pressure and you play in front of a crowd.'
So who are the five men who could lead Southgate’s team to six crucial points?
Carl Jenkinson –
He’s made five appearances in Arsenal’s fantastic start to the Premier League season and has already made his senior England debut in a friendly against Sweden.
Ravel Morrison –
The West Ham United midfielder is on fire scoring four times in eight league and cup appearances and there are already rumours of a new and improved contract being offered to get rid of a reported £19m release clause.
Will Hughes –
Unable to play in San Marino but should be starting against the Lithuanians, the Derby starlet could possibly be joining Liverpool in the January transfer window.
Wilfred Zaha –
Another who’s already made a senior appearance, the winger is yet to make a league appearance for Manchester United since joining earlier this year from Crystal Palace, so will be hoping to show David Moyes what he can do.
Saido Berahino –
Two goals in two Under-21 appearances and a league goal at Old Trafford is a great start to the season for the West Bromwich Albion striker and he’ll be hoping to lead the line once again this week.
In a week that could see the senior team book their World Cup place, those youngsters will be hoping that good performances here and throughout the season could get them on the plane to Brazil come June 2014.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald