By Connor Andrews
Stuart Pearce has reminded England fans why ‘it’s still very exciting times’.
The Three Lions snapped a worrying four-game scoreless run with an encouraging 3-3 draw against Germany in the Nations League, but plenty of doubts still remain ahead of the World Cup.
England were relegated from the UEFA competition without winning a game, and with a historic low in the shape of a 4-0 defeat against Hungary alarm bells started ringing.
However, not only is this a team that has reached the final four of the last World Cup and also the final of Euro 2020, but it’s also one bustling with some of football’s top young talent.
Recent years have seen England’s youth teams winning the World Cup at Under-20 and Under-17 level, as well as a pair of European Championships at Under-19.
Now that talent has filtered through, England legend Pearce has identified three candidates who should be filling supporters with plenty of optimism.
Discussing the midfield that impressed against Germany, Pearce told talkSPORT about the promise shown by West Ham’s Declan Rice and Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham who has been linked with a move to Liverpool.
“You’ve got two boys there that are under 23 years old,” he said. “They balance off each other really well.
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“Dec offers that defensive shield, Bellingham’s got freedom to get forward and supplement the attack, the kid can only get better.
“It’s still very exciting times for England, you’ve got a player there in midfield [Bellingham] who certainly has got improvement.
“I thought last summer he might be one of these players who really enhances himself like a [Paul] Gascoigne did at a major tournament.
“He’s got the world at his feet in regards to a major stage at the World Cup in November and December and hopefully he takes another step forward.”
Pearce also talked up Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka, who, despite the heartbreak of a missed penalty in the Euro 2020 final, should be remembered as one of England’s best performers.
Speaking about the 21-year-old’s showing against Italy last week, Pearce said: “I looked at the game and said Saka’s not working at left wing back.
“I understand at the offset why they’ve put him in, they’ve tried to put another attacking player within the ranks, can he get forward, get in the final third and deliver what he’s delivering for his club.
“He never got forward enough and in those advanced areas to impact the game which is what he’s good at so he was judged by his defensive work which isn’t his forte, at half time in Italy I would have put him in his favoured position on the right hand side and put Shaw in.
“Saka, if you go back to last summer he was one of the better players in the team.”
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