With an average age of just 23.7, the starting line-up against Lithuania on Sunday was England’s youngest for 15 years.
The Three Lions had already booked their place at next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia thanks to last week’s 1-0 win over Slovenia at Wembley, so Gareth Southgate made the most of the opportunity to offer some of the national team’s less experienced and younger players a chance to impress.
Jack Butland, Harry Maguire, Michael Keane and Harry Winks were among the starters in Vilnius as England laboured to an unconvincing 1-0 victory in the Lithuanian capital.
England fans wanted to see a performance from Southgate’s side with qualification for the 2018 World Cup already secured - the 1-0 victory against Slovenia three days earlier had been painful to sit through - but they were once again left disappointed.
Despite dominating possession, England failed to entertain and struggled to create goalscoring opportunities against Lithuania, hitting the target just four times over the course of the 90 minutes.
Ian Wright: Players are playing with fear
ITV covered the game and former Premier League stars Ian Wright, Ryan Giggs and Lee Dixon discussed the team’s shortcomings after the match.
"I personally feel that what [Southgate] should be trying to concentrate on now with England now we're there is to pass the ball forward more. Players are playing with fear,” Wright, who scored nine goals in 33 appearances for England, was quoted as saying by Goal. "We're talking about a kind of generation of players that from academy all the way up to first-team, there's hardly any pressure put on them.
"The most these guys get pressure is when they play for England.
"When you look at the way we used to qualify out of this group, I can't remember any game where we've played expansive, or not even expansive, just a positive game of football — people getting forward, having shots.”
Wright makes honest comment involving Marcus Rashford
The Arsenal legend then claimed that only one player in the England squad is currently playing without fear: Manchester United’s young star Marcus Rashford.
"Apart from Rashford,” Wright continued, “everybody else looks petrified."
Rashford was England's bright spark v Lithuania
Indeed, Rashford, who doesn’t turn 20 until the end of the month, was the one player who managed to produce a couple of eye-catching moments on Sunday afternoon, including this lovely piece of skill…
The gifted forward, unlike many of his international teammates, hasn’t been weighted down by the England shirt since making his senior debut last year.
And barring injury, Rashford will surely be one of the first names on Southgate’s list for the World Cup in Russia next summer.
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