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New England ‘Golden Generation’ after Carragher hailed next Gerrard and Lampard

Jamie Carragher’s recent comments about Mason Mount and Phil Foden have raised the prospect of another England ‘Golden Generation’ ahead of this summer’s Euro 2020 finals.

But his comparison of the two to Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard also casts an interesting light on the conundrum faced by past Three Lions bosses as they looked to combine the supremely talented midfielders.

England’s golden generation was born on September 1, 2001, when Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side thrashed Germany 5-1 thanks to a Michael Owen hat-trick, with a midfield containing Gerrard, David Beckham and arguably the best of the three, Paul Scholes.

Lampard was later to become a prominent England midfielder, with John Terry and Wayne Rooney also to emerge as world-class talents.

But the dynamic between Lampard and Gerrard never worked as hoped, with many feeling they were too similar.

Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard were stars of England’s so-called ‘Golden Generation’

And Scholes retired from international football in 2004 at the age of 29, when he still could have offered so much to the England team.

The Three Lions never delivered on the tournament success promised by that thrilling win over Germany at the start of the decade.

But Carragher hopes it will be different this time around with Mount and Foden nailed on to be key England players, both having been hugely influential in the respective successes of Chelsea and Manchester City this season.

He believes Gareth Southgate will find a way to get the best out of both of them in the Euro 2020 finals with the benefit of greater tactical flexibility than previous managers showed with Gerrard and Lampard.

Phil Foden has starred during Man City's run to the Champions League final
Phil Foden has starred during Man City’s run to the Champions League final

“Seeing Mount and Foden emerge at the same time reminds me of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard’s breakthrough,” said Carragher last month.

“Arguments still continue as to whether both should have been in the same England team, especially with Paul Scholes and David Beckham making a multi-talented midfield.

“England will not make the same mistake with Mount and Foden, which underlines how our attitudes and culture are evolving for the better.

“Southgate has already proven himself more flexible switching between three and four at the back, inclined to make the system suit the talent, not insist the talent is compromised to suit a predetermined system.

Mason Mount training with Andreas Christensen ahead of Chelsea's Champions League semi-final
Mason Mount training with Andreas Christensen ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final

“If the European championships were starting this weekend, on the basis of form Mount and Foden would deservedly be in the starting line-up with Harry Kane.”

Carragher’s comments hint at the possibility that Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham and Scholes all could have been utilised together more effectively with the benefit of more modern tactics and attitudes.

A common consensus is that playing Gerrard and Lampard in the middle of a 4-4-2 meant England’s engine room lacked defensive strength.

In today’s game, they would most likely have been playing with a holding player sitting behind them, with the likes of Nicky Butt, Owen Hargreaves, Michael Carrick and Gareth Barry all available to England over the years.

A potential England 'Golden Generation' line-up featuring Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham and Scholes - but big players would still miss out
A potential England ‘Golden Generation’ line-up featuring Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham and Scholes – but big players would still miss out

David Beckham would be nailed on to provide width on the right, with Scholes deployed as an attacking midfielder and given licence to roam as needed.

But if we assume a back four of Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Ashley Cole would have played, that would leave just one place in the team for a striker such as Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney or Emile Heskey.

One other obvious option might have been to employ more rotation, with players selected based on their strengths for particular games the way Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel have done so effectively – meaning England’s Golden Generation stars could all have had crucial roles to play at different times against different opponents.

The announcement by UEFA that Euro 2020 squads will be expanded from 23 to 26 players arguably means that Southgate can pick more players offering attacking flair for this summer’s tournament finals.

How England could line up against Croatia in their first Euro 2020 finals game on June 13
How England could line up against Croatia in their first Euro 2020 finals game on June 13

With Foden having played a key role in helping City reach the Champions League final, and Mount looking to do the same for Chelsea against Real Madrid on Wednesday night, both players look certain to star for England this summer.

Southgate will also be able to select from the likes of Jack Grealish and James Maddison to add impetus to the attack, with the likes of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips available to boost England’s engine room, as well as Jordan Henderson if the Liverpool skipper recovers from injury in time.

With Harry Kane leading the line and the likes of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Luke Shaw and Trent Alexander-Arnold all available in defence, as well as the currently sidelined Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire, Southgate could have another Golden Generation on his hands.

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