England manager Gareth Southgate has admitted that Luke Shaw‘s inclusion in the latest national side was underpinned by a desire to boost his confidence after being ostracised by Jose Mourinho this season.
The youngster’s last England appearance dates back to September 2015 and has only managed 70 minutes of Premier League action since October.
But Southgate, when asked about his decision to include Shaw, noted that he was considering the national side’s broader future when selecting the 21-year-old.
“We are definitely nodding towards the future with some of the decisions we are making,” he said.
“Generally we’ve tried to pick players who are playing regularly, and one or two have missed out because of that. Luke is probably the exception. He’s a player we have a lot of belief in.
“Having worked with him before we think he can be an important player for the future.
“Now would be a good time to give him that confidence boost.”
The latest England team raised plenty of eyebrows at first, but I am starting to warm to Southgate’s managerial approach. Managers of the national side in the past, always inundated by universal pressure, have always opted for a starting XI consisting of the best players at that given moment.
This may sound reasonable, but constantly reaching for in-form players prohibits the national side from ever forming a defined structure – an established group of players capable of understanding each other – when it comes to major tournaments.
Southgate, in using Shaw, is laying out a blueprint for a national side that can accumulate genuine chemistry in the lead-up to the 2018 World Cup and beyond.