England Under-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd hailed Gareth Southgate’s brave senior call-ups for Jadon Sancho, Mason Mount and James Maddison – even if they have come earlier than expected.
The uncapped trio have been selected for the Three Lions’ Nations League games in Croatia and Spain this month.
With Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard injured and Adam Lallana and Ruben Loftus-Cheek making their way back to fitness, Southgate has turned to youth.
Borussia Dortmund’s Sancho has risen from the under-19s – Southgate, however, said he would have been selected regardless of injuries – while Mount and Maddison had been part of Boothroyd’s under-21 squad.
Boothroyd told Press Association Sport: “It’s probably a little early for the boys but what we have seen is a strategy evolving that if players do get injured or come out of the first team, Gareth immediately looks at the under-21s.
“He doesn’t look at players who might be ageing or just coming to do one job. He is looking to the future and it should be applauded, it’s another brave decision.
“It puts them in the spotlight and in the environment to thrive in the seniors but, because we’re all joined up, if the other guys come back and Gareth decides not to pick them (the youngsters), they’ll come back down to me.
“Then they have got to fight for their place in the under-21s squad then because that’s not bad either.”
Sancho, 18, is yet to start in the Bundesliga for Dortmund this season but has five assists and one goal in just 125 minutes of league action.
Maddison has three goals and two assists since making his £24million move from Norwich to Leicester, while Mount has netted three times for Derby.
Boothroyd said: “Because of the injuries the team has got it just gives them an opportunity. Jadon has done really well, he has come in and created goals and scored, and Mason has been outstanding at Derby.
“The same with James, he had his season in the Championship, got his move, and has done really well so deserves looking at.
“In a different era it would take 100 appearances in the top flight before they got a cap but we live in different times.
“With the Premier League as it is we have to be creative, inventive and have to look longer term.”