England’s underage sides have been on fire this year, with the U20s lifting the World Cup for the first time, the U17s falling short in the Euros final on penalties against Spain, and Aidy Boothroyd’s U21s going out a stage earlier to Germany by the same means.
Hopefully such progress spells success down the line, but Welshman Steve Cooper’s U17s have earned the right to banish their May misery in double-quick time.
Out in India, England U17s saw off Chile, Mexico and Iraq in the group stage before sending home Japan on pens and the USA in a 4-1 thumping, setting up a semi-final clash with Brazil.
Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster is hogging the headlines after bagging all his country’s goals in the 3-1 win over the Canarinho youth wing, the young Londoner’s second hat-trick in as many games.
Long-term Reds target Ryan Sessegnon has long since graduated to the U19s, but his twin Steven – currently with his brother at Fulham – has crept into Cooper’s XI of late.
Manchester City account for a lot of this side’s quality, with goalkeeper Curtis Anderson, centre-half Joel Latibeaudiere and attacking midfielder Phil Foden all impressing in Asia.
However, the absence of a young man City let go during the summer will be keenly felt when Cooper and co take on either Spain or Mali in Kolkata, where five of England’s six successful matches have been played.
Jadon Sancho was pulled by employers Borussia Dortmund after scoring three times in as many Group F fixtures and looking on his way to another man of the tournament gong, having been judged best player at the Euros in Croatia five months previously.
At least under-fire BVB gaffer Peter Bosz afforded his new £8m star six minutes of action for coming home early, with Sancho the first Englishman to play for Dortmund in the Bundesliga with a late substitute showing away to Eintracht Frankfurt.