It is fascinating to consider how Gareth Southgate and England would be approaching these Nations League games had things gone as planned this year.
This double-header with Iceland and Denmark would have been the first time the national team had been together since Euro 2020.
Would they still be celebrating July’s glorious triumph at Wembley, which finally ended all those years of hurt? Or would there be painstaking questions over the direction of the team after a disappointing early exit?
Iceland vs England
September 5, 2020, 4:30pm
There could be new leaders in the team after heroic performances – or there could be players axed after failing on the big stage. Would Southgate still be in charge at all?
As it is, those scenarios have been postponed by 12 months. Instead, these games, as well as building towards a shot at Nations League silverware at the end of 2021, will also provide an opportunity for England’s young players. Emerging talents, who would not have been at the Euros at all, can begin to earn their place in Southgate’s plans and work towards a spot at next summer’s delayed European Championships.
There is a strong chance Southgate’s starting XI in June 2021 will look quite different from the one he was planning to go with at this summer’s tournament.
The absence of Harry Maguire, because of his court case in Greece, and the unavailability of players such as Marcus Rashford, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Harry Winks, and Ben Chilwell through injury, has also opened the door for others to stake a claim.