England looking to gain from the versatility of its squad

The striking part of England’s performance so far has been the departure from the hit-and-run style to a more composite passing game which thrives on the overall skill of the team.

England's Rhian Brewster (on the ground) and his team-mates celebrate the semifinal win over Brazil at the FIFA U-17 football World Cup.   -  K.R. Deepak

England’s dynamic performance in the ongoing FIFA Under-17 World Cup can be attributed to its judicious selection of young professionals from the Premier League clubs. In surprising Brazil in the semifinal on Wednesday, the Young Lions showed the form and versatility required to outshine a technically efficient side.

Famished of World Cup success for a long time since the senior team triumphed in 1966, England initiated a project in 2014 to spark a turnaround in its fortune. With the FIFA Under-20 World Cup already in its cabinet, a win against Spain in the final of the Under-17 tournament will complete the resurgence that England is longing for.

A maiden Under-17 crown is very important in England’s scheme of things. According to coach Steve Cooper, this is essential to affirm the “good work” happening back home in relation to youth development.

The project, christened England DNA, is fuelling the success of its youth team as England looks to perfect its elite player development programme. It is no wonder that Rhian Brewster would be the foremost contender for the ‘Golden Boot,’ which goes to the highest scorer of the tournament.

With seven goals, including two hat-tricks in successive matches, Brewster has given his No. 9 shirt lot of justification. The fantastic goal-poacher who is waiting to break into the first-team squad of Liverpool FC, is one man England is looking to realise its dream.

The striking part of England’s performance so far has been the departure from the hit-and-run style to a more composite passing game which thrives on the overall skill of the team. While Brewster is at the fountainhead of the attack, the team has thrived in pushing its offensive through three midfielders supporting the lone striker.

Philip Foden, the Manchester City FC midfielder, has been at the centre of creativity that mark’s England’s style of play. With the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea FC), Angel Gomes (Manchester United), Morgan Gibbs White (Wolverhampton Wanderers) and Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal FC) in the squad, Cooper has plenty to choose from in the attacking third, where England has done quite well so far. The two in deep defence — Marc Guehi (Chelsea FC) and Joel Latibeaudiere (Manchester City) – have given solidity at the back, helping the ‘Three Lions’ preying on all its opponents so far.

England, which has won all its six matches to be the most successful side in the tournament so far, needs just one more consistent performance to translate the fine run into a triumph. Of the six wins, the last five have happened in Salt Lake Stadium, which gives England enough reasons to be confident ahead of the final on Saturday.