England look to Tottenham youngsters for Euro spur
Roy Hodgson will turn to the young pretenders driving Tottenham's Premier League title bid tonight after insisting that England's emerging talents can deliver the international success enjoyed by Germany in recent years.
England face the world champions with a starting XI that can lay claim to a collective total of only 161 caps, with the four Spurs selections - Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Danny Rose - accounting for just 14 of those appearances.
Yet having witnessed Germany's development since Joachim Low succeeded Jurgen Klinsmann as manager in 2006, Hodgson believes that his current crop, led by Tottenham's rising stars, can deliver the success that has eluded England for half a century.
"I personally believe there's a platform of players coming through who could develop into really good quality European players and help the country, at some stage in the future, to win something," Hodgson said.
"You can't make a clear comparison with Germany because you can't guarantee it will happen for us, too.
"All we can do is give the players the encouragement they need, the coaching they need and the opportunity. Then they have to take it - as the top players of the past did.
"Joachim Low gave x, y and z chances. They had no experience, but he believed in their talent and look how they took their chance."
Fifty years on from England's only major international triumph, you can expect plenty of reminders in the coming months that the success in 1966 was as much a victory for West Ham United as England itself.
Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters have been immortalised for their part in England's World Cup glory - most notably in the final against West Germany.
While attributing the lion's share of the plaudits to three West Ham players may unfairly overlook the contributions of Bobby Charlton, Gordon Banks and the rest of Alf Ramsey's players, the claret-and-blue thread which ran through the team was undoubtedly significant in the final reckoning.
All successful international teams benefit from a bedrock of players from one club. Spain's dominance over recent years has coincided with Barcelona producing arguably the most impressive club team of all time, while Germany's World Cup victory in Brazil two years ago was due in no small part to the impact of a Bayern Munich contingent including Manuel Neuer, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Phillip Lahm, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos and Mario Gotze.
Kane, Dier, Alli and Rose will all start against Germany tonight.
Rose will make his debut at left-back following the injury-enforced withdrawal of Southampton's Ryan Bertrand and, with Luke Shaw unlikely to return in time from a broken leg and Everton's Leighton Baines not even selected for this squad, the Spurs full-back now has the opportunity to make the position his own ahead of Euro 2016 by impressing against the Germans, and against Holland at Wembley on Tuesday.
Kane, Dier and Alli, all so crucial for Mauricio Pochettino's team this season, have now become almost certain starters against Russia in Marseille on June 11.
Kane's goalscoring form for Tottenham has nudged Wayne Rooney out of the picture and the Manchester United captain must now accept that his battle is all about earning the right to partner the 22-year-old.
Dier has moved into defensive midfield this season and been outstanding, while Alli is a potential Young Player of the Year having made the step-up from League One MK Dons without so much as a blink of an eye.
"Dier has played his role particularly well this season for Tottenham," Hodgson said. "In the game we played against France recently, he did that role really well."
Despite cruising through their Euro 2016 qualification group with a 100 per cent winning record during the 10-game campaign, there is a danger that the untroubled nature of the procession to France could mask the question marks that remain unanswered about England's credentials. If last November's friendly victory against France is discounted - the French were clearly distracted by the terrorist atrocities in Paris just four days earlier and unsurprisingly focused on anything but a football game - then you have to go back more than three years for the last win against an opponent of note.
Italy, Spain, Uruguay and Germany have all avoided defeat against England during the past three years, so it would be a well-timed achievement to beat the world champions tonight. © Independent News Service.