England's surprisingly riveting 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying victory away to Switzerland last month was a notably refreshing performance that certainly did no harm to the FA's attempts to recapture the public imagination after another lacklustre World Cup and a follow-up friendly against tame opposition in Norway that drew a paltry crowd of just 40,181 - the lowest for any senior international fixture at the new Wembley since the stadium was opened in 2007.
Manager Roy Hodgson - who many had begun to doubt was the right man for the job due to his rather old-fashioned approach and stubborn refusal to engage with statistics - seemingly abandoned his preference for a rather pre-historic, plodding 4-4-2 formation and introduced a more dynamic diamond system that involved pressing the opposition high up the pitch and left the likes of Danny Welbeck, Raheem Sterling and Wayne Rooney to capitalise on any inevitable errors and break with pace to devastating effect.
Despite the clear positives that emerged from that aforementioned win at FC Basel's St. Jakob-Park, however, England supporters were handed a swift reminder this week that the talent pool from which to select and nurture the next batch of Three Lions stalwarts remains painfully and worryingly thin.
Blackett to be fast-tracked?
According to the latest reports from The Telegraph, Manchester United youngster Tyler Blackett could well be fast-tracked into the senior England squad as Hodgson continues to suffer from a chronic dearth of experienced and available left-sided centre-backs ahead of England's October double-header against group E minnows San Marino and Estonia.
If that information turns out to be correct, then it really does go to prove that a bit of first-team exposure in the Premier League truly is really all you require in order to win a cap at present and long gone are the days when lining up for your country was as a result of a sustained period of impressive form.
While not wishing to be too detrimental of a player who clearly has potential and whose place in Manchester United's starting XI this season is perhaps as a direct result of a hopeless skewed, panicked and ill-conceived transfer strategy rather than a genuine belief that he is already good enough to start week-in, week-out at the top level, Blackett does not appear ready for an England call-up.
Despite starting in all five of the Red Devils' Premier League games so far this season and showing occasional glimpses of quality, the 20-year-old has looked rather awkward at other times and his thoroughly miserable afternoon in the quite astonishing 5-3 defeat to Leicester City on Sunday was ended prematurely when a rash, hopelessly mis-timed tackle on Jamie Vardy was punished with the award of a penalty - which Leonardo Ulloa scored to give the hosts an insurmountable two-goal lead - and a straight red card which will rule him out of next week's home tie with West Ham.
Compare and contrast Blackett's form with that of Calum Chambers - the talented 19-year-old whose versatility and early promise at Southampton earned him a £16 million move to Arsenal in July - and the strength of his case for international recognition is rendered even weaker.
Chambers - who recently struggled with a nasty bout of tonsillitis - has not appeared quite as consistently for Arsene Wenger's side, yet it is hard to deny that, when he has been called upon, he has looked far more assured and confident than Blackett yet there are those who believe even he has not shown quite enough just yet to merit a place in Hodgson's squad.
It is, of course, not Blackett's fault that he is being relied upon to perform on a consistent basis for one of the world's most reputable clubs despite a total lack of prior top-level experience.
Manchester United's inability to secure the signing of at least one new, world-class centre-back to compliment the arrival of Argentine Marcos Rojo this summer despite clearly being in possession of the necessary funds is mismanagement bordering on recklessness and is an issue that, unless addressed and remedied quickly in January, will surely have a hugely negative impact upon their ambition to make a swift return to title contention.
With Blackett perhaps not yet ready for the rigours and harsh scrutiny that inevitably comes with representing such a massive club and indeed to play a significant role in England's attempts to qualify for a major tournament, one hopes that being thrust into the limelight will not have a lasting effect on his development.
Of course, there is always the chance that an opportunity to spend time alongside Hodgson's current crop of England talent could be hugely beneficial to Blackett.
After all, the departures of the likes of Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard from the international scene in recent months have left the country in obvious need of cultivating a culture that will lead to several new faces coming to the fore and staking their respective claims to replace the so-called 'Golden Generation'.
However, you just cannot help but feel that such a call-up - were it to happen - would be ill-advised and ridiculously premature at this stage.
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