Four Tottenham players, including Premier League top goalscorer Harry Kane and midfielder Dele Alli, are projected to start for England when it plays Germany at the Berlin Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
Manager Roy Hodgson has chosen a young team for the first of two friendlies to be played during the FIFA fixture window. England hosts the Netherlands Tuesday and Hodgson’s team, which sailed through its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign unbeaten and untied, will be closely watched by observers seeking insights into Hodgson’s grand plan for the European Championships.
Chelsea centerback Gary Cahill is the most experienced player in the squad (40 caps) and will replace regular captain Wayne Rooney, who just started running this week in his recovery from suffering ligament damage to his right knee in a Premier League game against Sunderland last month.
“The experience they’re getting in the Premier League and Champions League every week that accelerates their progress but you need to play internationals and tournaments as well,” Hodgson told The Guardian. “First we have to get to the tournaments, which we have done.
“I personally believe there’s a platform now, of players coming through who could develop into really good quality European players and help the team and the country, in some stage in the future, to win something.”
Kane, 22, scored twice for Spurs against Bouremouth last weekend to match the 21 goals he tallied last season and this is just his sixth start for his country. Alli has started for England only once before, in a 2-0 defeat of France last November, and on that night scored England’s first goal. Rooney bagged the second goal in a match played a few days after terrorist attacks in Paris killed 129 people.
Alli, 19, will be part of a midfield trio along with Spurs teammate Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson. His meteoric rise -- he played for MK Dons in League One (third division) last year and skipped the U-21s to go straight into the senior international team -- has caused some observers to question his maturity and temperament. A flare-up in the Europa League series against Fiorentina prompted renewed concerns.
But Hodgson is adamant that the younger players deserve these opportunities in friendlies. Several veterans have left the squad since the 2014 World Cup and there’s no question that some of the nation’s top talent is embedded in its younger contingent.
“All we can do is give the players the encouragement they need, the coaching they need, the leadership skills that are required to get the best out of them, and the opportunity,” said Hodgson. “Then they have to take it, as the top players of the past did.”
Left back Danny Rose, who is making his England debut, rounds out a quartet of Tottenham players that have seven international starts combined. Total caps, including substitute appearances, is 14.
The 11 projected England starters have amassed 161 caps. Germany’s XI -- eight of which played in the 2014 World Cup that the Germans won – totals 479.
Hodgson’s starting XI excludes Leicester City star Jamie Vardy, whose has scored 19 goals and set a Premier League record by connecting in 11 straight games. He is likely to see action off the bench and start Tuesday against the Netherlands, along with Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool. Vardy is 29 but only made his international debut last June against Ireland.
The strong influence on the starting XI of Tottenham, which is second in the Premier League standings and chasing Leicester City to capture its first top-tier title in more than 60 years, is a product of individual player performances rather than anything gained collectively. Hodgson apparently doesn’t plan to build his lineup around a club team.
“With the Spurs players, if they carry on and play as well England as they do for Spurs, that would be advantageous for us but I don’t choose them as a block,” said Hodgson.
“If I was bothered about that, I’d play Kyle Walker at right back, not Nathaniel Clyne. I’d like to think I’ll continue to choose on ability, talent and what the players can bring to our team, and be conscious of what they do for their own club team. It’s their club form which brings them to our attention, after all.”