With Jadon Sancho set to make his first England start against the USA, WhoScored.com looks at why the winger deserves his place.
At the World Cup, England manager Gareth Southgate relied heavily on a three-man defence and a system that used one or two strikers.
England vs USA
November 15, 2018, 7:00pm
With wing-backs providing the width, it was a setup that saw England reach the semi-finals before their third-place play-off loss at the hands of Belgium. However, while the formation has its advantages, there are also drawbacks.
With only two out and out wide players, those largely defenders by trade, it can be a particularly negative system and, if the wing-backs are not on top of their game, a team is robbed of one of their main attacking threats. It also has its limitations in the personnel that can be used.
Raheem Sterling was deployed as a striker alongside Harry Kane at the World Cup, while Marcus Rashford was his first reserve. Yet, even if the duo are capable professionals on the front-line, they are better served out wide where their pace can really hurt teams.
It could also have had an impact on those coming through the youth ranks. In the October international break, Southgate called James Maddison, Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho up to the senior England squad, and while the former pair would have slotted into the setup seamlessly, the latter would have struggled without adapting.
At 18 years of age, Sancho has plenty of time to develop his game and there is no reason why he will nor become a more adaptable forward in the future, but Southgate has instead moved away from a three-man defence to a 4-3-3 formation in the last two matches to help integrate the Borussia Dortmund player and add another dimension to the England attack.
What suits them [the young players] best? We have some very promising No 8s and wide players. A 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 are good options moving forward, Southgate said after England`s 0-0 UEFA Nations League draw with Croatia last month.
England vs Croatia
November 18, 2018, 1:00pm
It was in the stalemate and the entertaining 3-2 win over Spain Southgate used the 4-3-3 system and he is expected to keep with the setup when England host USA on Thursday and against Croatia on Sunday, both of which are live on Sky Sports.
Having started both Sterling and Rashford in a front three alongside captain and focal point Kane in both UEFA Nations League matches, Sancho looks set to get the nod out on the wing against the USA and it would not be undeserved - that goes without saying.
The teenager has thrived under Lucien Favre for Dortmund this season, so much so that opposite number and club team-mate Christian Pulisic struggles to get in the starting XI for the Bundesliga side.
It`s for good reason, too, with Sancho (3.3) ranking among the top 10 players for key passes per 90 minutes in Europe`s top five leagues this season for those who have made 10 or more appearances. Only Suso (8) has registered more assists than the England international (6), five of which have come after arriving as a substitute, the most in Europe`s top five leagues.
There is the argument to be made that he is better suited as an impact player, but even when starting, Sancho has excelled under Favre and a WhoScored.com rating of 7.18 proves just that, even if he has only made just five league starts.
There is even the argument to be made he warrants a starting spot ahead of Rashford in the England XI in the long run. The Manchester United striker`s indifferent form in both the Premier League and Champions League has seen him chip in with just two goals and one assist, however, much of that could be down to Jose Mourinho`s regimented managerial approach at Old Trafford. Indeed, he has two goals and one assist to his name from three UEFA Nations League outings.
Southgate grants Rashford the additional attacking freedom that allows the United forward to play his natural game and the national team is all the better for it.
What is for certain, though, is that Sancho will not be taking Sterling`s spot in the XI. The Manchester City forward has been in exceptional form for the defending champions in the Premier League this season, with six goals and five assists from his 10 top-flight outings returning a WhoScored.com rating of 7.90; only Eden Hazard (7.95) has earned better.
2.4 key passes per 90 is better than Rashford`s return of 0.9 key passes per 90, while of the three, Sterling (2.8) is having more shots per 90 in league matches this term.
However, it means that, while Sterling, with six goals, is the top scorer of the trio, his conversion rate (22.2 per cent) is worse than Rashford (28.6 per cent) and Sancho (57.1 per cent).
The latter`s could well be attributed to largely playing against tiring defences for a Dortmund side that dominates opponents in the Bundesliga, but even so; it`s a fine return for the teenage wide man who is reaffirming his decision to swap England for Germany.
While Southgate is expected to return to the tried and tested front three of Sterling, Kane and Rashford for the must-win UEFA Nations League meeting with Croatia on Sunday, if Sancho can replicate his fine club form for England against the USA, then he`ll hand Southgate a selection headache.
His Dortmund performances means he certainly deserves his opportunity to consolidate a regular spot in the England squad and after a bright 12-minute cameo in the 0-0 draw with Croatia, Sancho will be eager to prove he not only warrants a place in the squad, but the starting XI too.