International breaks have often been met with great apathy in recent years, with fans interested only in the progress of their club side after falling disengaged with the England national team.
Yet the feeling appears to have changed, with Gareth Southgate’s team sparking a new interest in the national side which will have only enhanced after another successful international break.
Winning by a combined aggregate score of 10-1 in their first two European Championship qualifiers against Czech Republic and Montenegro, there is plenty to feel optimistic about heading into both the Nations League and Euro 2020.
There was even more reason to feel cheerful after two of the latest players to don the Three Lions made a positive impact in their first squad. Both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Declan Rice made their England debuts at Wembley against Czech Republic on Friday night, before then being handed their first full starts against Montenegro on Monday.
Both impressed in doing so, showing great maturity for their age and played as they have when given the opportunity for their club sides this season. The quality of opponent may not have been comparable to what they face in the Premier League, but they were aggressive and physical enough to make weaker characters shirk and go into hiding.
Yet neither of them did, with Rice constantly offering himself in possession and keeping the team ticking over as they patiently built from the back. Even on the rare occasion in which he lost possession, it seemed as if he had the ball back at his feet within seconds every time he lost the ball.
As for Hudson-Odoi, his task was to be far more expansive than his fellow full debutant and did so with real aplong, showing a great fearlessness with the ball at his feet. The highlight of his evening came when he helped assist Chelsea teammate Ross Barkley’s first goal of the night, cutting in from the left flank before firing a shot-come-cross that Barkeley diverted in.