England have turned to youth as they they step up their preparations for Euro 2016 with a friendly against old rivals Germany in Berlin on Saturday. For the test against the current world champions, coach Roy Hodgson has named a side with just 161 caps to its name and with just one player over the age of 30. That man, Gary Cahill, is also the most experienced international campaigner with 40 caps.
The team is highlighted by four players who have played integral roles in Tottenham’s fight for the Premier League title this season—Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Danny Rose. The lineup is also a testament to the encouraging crop of young players that have emerged to bolster England ahead of this summer’s European Championships. And, while insisting the push for youth is not a deliberate ploy, he has cited Germany’s evolution over the past decade as an example of where England currently stand.
“I haven't necessarily chosen a team with that in mind,” Hodgson said in his pre-match press conference. “I think in terms of experience, we just have to accept that the type of players we’re using now and have been using, and the type of players we’re promoting, if you look at the number of caps in our team and you compare it to the number of caps in the German team we’ll be way way below them.
“But thats because perhaps we are where Germany was after 2006, with a lot of good young players that they believed in and wanted to promote. And that’s where we found ourself a couple of years ago. So we’re much closer to the start of our journey than Germany, not least of all because they've completed their journey, you can’t get much further than winning the World Cup.”
Germany will certainly have more experience on the field at the Olympiastadion than England. Still, coach Jurgen Löw has said that he will use the game, along with a match against Italy next Tuesday, to cast his eye over a wide range of players with the goal of finalizing his squad for Euro 2016.
“They’re ideal opposition for us, games against England are always special,” he said. “For me it will be important to try everything out again. I will use both games to watch certain players, looking ahead to the squad nominations. The result is not the most important thing, especially as these are the last two games before I name the squad. We are all looking forward to the match, as both teams are capable of emerging victorious. If I am able to learn a bit more about my players, then I will be satisfied.”
Löw has revealed that he will start striker Mario Gómez on Saturday. The 30-year-old had spent more than a year out of the side before being recalled for November’s friendly against France on the back of a prolific season with Beşiktaş.
Löw will not, though, have his captain available. Bastian Schweinsteiger suffered a knee injury after meeting up with the squad and a scan revealed that he had partially torn the medial collateral ligament in his right knee, putting his participation in the finals this summer in doubt.
England, as well as missing goalkeeper Joe Hart, will also be without their skipper. Schweinsteiger’s Manchester United teammate Wayne Rooney is still recovering from his own knee injury.
D: Rudy, Mustafi, Hummels, Hector
M: Khedira, Kroos
Müller, Özil, Reus
D: Clyne, Smalling, Cahill, Rose
M: Henderson, Dier
Lallana, Alli, Welbeck
Kickoff time: 3:45 p.m. EDT
TV channel: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes
Live stream: Watch ESPN