Does Lewis Cook's England call-up finally justify 2016 Leeds United exit?

Leeds fans celebrate their team's victory during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Derby County at Elland Road on November 29, 2014 in Leeds, England.

Lewis Cook took his time to get going after swapping Leeds for Bournemouth - but the risk is finally starting to reap some rather sweet rewards.

Gareth Southgate manager of England smiles as he inspects the pitch on the eve of the World Cup qualifying match against Malta at Ta'Qali National Stadium on August 31, 2017 in Valletta,...

While the cynics will no doubt be queuing up to argue that it has never been so easy to win an England cap, you have to admire manager Gareth Southgate’s willingness to give the nation’s untested next generation a chance.

Five previously uncapped talents made their debut in Friday’s goalless draw with Germany, Ruben Loftus-Cheek earning rave reviews in central midfield and Jordan Pickford impressing in goal.

And Southgate has since called up Liverpool’s Dominic Solanke and Bournemouth’s Lewis Cook, who were both integral members of England’s World Cup winning Under-20 squad this summer, to the senior side.

Lewis Cook of AFC Bournemouth in action during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Leicester City at Vitality Stadium on September 30, 2017 in Bournemouth, England.

This is quite the step forward for Cook in particular. The 20-year-old endured a miserable first season with Bournemouth thanks to injuries but has recovered to start four times in the top flight in 2017/18.

And a surprise England call-up suggests that Cook is finally starting to reap the rewards of leaving Leeds United for the South Coast in the summer of 2016.

Cook was seen as one of the nation’s brightest prospects during his formative years at Elland Road but a disappointing first season in the Premier League had some questioning the wisdom of his £10 million move, per The Guardian.

Lewis Cook of Leeds United FC controls the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Brighton & Hove Albion at Elland Road on October 17, 2015 in Leeds, England.

Had Cook, like fellow former Leeds youngster Sam Byram, departed too quick for the glitz and glamour of the Premier League? The England Under-20 captain is far from a guaranteed first-team starter at Bournemouth, even when fully fit.

Yet, although Cook would have been one of the first names on Leeds’ team-sheet, the exposure he’s getting in the Premier League is surely a major factor in the talented young midfielder being handed the most surprising of England call-ups.

The barrier preventing lower league players from crashing through the England glass celing appears to remain very much intact.

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