Despite going to the World Cup with England this summer, new Manchester United signing Luke Shaw is back in the England Under-21's. The £30m capture from Southampton has had a difficult start to life at Old Trafford, missing the first month of the season through injury and incurring the wrath of new Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal over his fitness.
That led to him missing out on a call-up to the England squad for Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino and Estonia, with manager Roy Hodgson preferring to use Leighton Baines and Kieran Gibbs. That meant that the 19-year-old was available for the Under-21 side, who were facing Croatia in a crucial qualifier of their own, as the two nations met in a two-legged play-off to reach the Under-21 European Championships in the Czech Republic next summer.
Shaw started both games for Gareth Southgate's side as they ran out 4-2 winners on aggregate, and the Under-21 manager believes that playing alongside fellow new United signings Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao is helping Shaw understand where he needs to be in his development in years to come.
"I think what he now has is a recognition of what “world class” looks like," said Southgate. "He might have had an idea of what he thought it was before, but training at Manchester United with the likes of Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria has given him a full understanding of the concept now."
"He would have known there was a level, but now he knows there is a level above that. He was able to share those stories among our lads in the U21s because all players at times in their careers think they are nearly there - and then you discover you still have a bit of a way to go. You continually have to strive to be better than you are and Luke realises that now," he added.
Di Maria has been the star of the show for van Gaal since arriving for £60m from Real Madrid, whilst Falcao - one of the deadliest strikers around - was snapped up on loan for the season from Monaco, and opened his account for United in their last game against Everton.
With such fantastic players around him, it's only natural that Shaw begins to learn and grow as a result of his surroundings - and that can only be good news for club and country.