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.
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.
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.