Fowler defends Southgate's decision to cap young English players

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The 26-time Three Lions international believes that some of the newcomers could be in contention for places at the World Cup if they can perform well

Former England international Robbie Fowler has defended Gareth Southgate's decision to cap a number of young players for the Three Lions.

Jordan Pickford, Joe Gomez, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jack Cork and Tammy Abraham all made their debuts in Friday's scoreless draw with Germany, and Southgate could give more newcomers their first taste of international football when the Three Lions face Brazil on Tuesday.

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Angus Gunn, Lewis Cook and Dominic Solanke have all been added to Southgate's injury-hit squad, but ex-Liverpool forward Fowler believes that the players deserve to be in the reckoning as the manager does not have an unlimited number of players to choose from.

"If you have been called up because of the pull-outs, so what," Fowler wrote in his Mirror column. "That will be forgotten if you end up doing the business.

"The manager has only got a certain number of players to call on, so if that means cheapening the cap, then so be it.

"England can’t afford to think about that if they want to be successful in the major tournaments. Unfortunately, we are not in a position where we’ve got hundreds of quality players to select from."

The 42-year-old believes that the depth of talent is much less than when he played for England, winning 26 caps from 1996 to 2002. However, he feels that if the newcomers impress they could easily find themselves in the squad for the World Cup - especially if injury strikes more senior members of the squad.

"The options aren’t as great for Southgate as they would have been for previous men in the ­England hot seat," he continued. 

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"In my day there were a lot more ­English players to choose from so it was more difficult to be called up. It says a lot that I ended up with just 26 England caps – and only started 12 of them. Considering my goalscoring record for Liverpool, that was pretty disappointing.

"Some of the players called up to join the present squad could easily end up being part of ­England’s plans in Russia. I suffered a cruciate knee ­injury and ended up missing the 1998 World Cup finals. That gave others a chance.

"So maybe for some, the ­friendlies aren’t so meaningless."

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