Fabio Capello has made the bold announcement that his new young England team could emulate the success of Germany's new generation at next summer's Euro 2012 tournament.
Capello agreed that there was a comparison to be made between the young Germany side that made such an impression at last summer's World Cup finals in South Africa – beating England 4-1 in the first knockout round – and the new team that has come together in the last two games against Wales on Saturday and Ghana on Tuesday night.
After the 1-1 draw with the African side, the England manager picked out Jack Wilshere, Andy Carroll, Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck and Matt Jarvis as five of the most promising young players in his side. "I hope that people will talk about us like they did about Germany," Capello said. "These players are improving a lot and playing with confidence.
"Look, I have said that we've got some players, young players, who are really good for the future. [Against Ghana] some players played, Welbeck, Jarvis, Wilshere, Andy Carroll. It was really important because they are really, really good players for the England future.
"Last year Ashley Young played left wing always, or sometimes right wing. This year he changed position and improved a lot. Now he is a really, really important player because the movement between the lines is there. When we need to defend, we are always nine players defending, one forward, but when we go forward the quality of the England players is really, really good and we are really, really dangerous."
The last nine days would appear to have marked a sea change in Capello's thinking, notable for his hitherto unmentioned admiration for the likes of Young, Welbeck and Jarvis in particular. This time last year the England manager would address questions about potential young players with a disbelieving stare and an inquiry as to whom exactly the questioner had in mind.
Now the mood has changed completely, with Capello moving towards a squad based around the players who played little more than a fringe role before South Africa. "Another I forgot to mention was [Gary] Cahill," he said. "He is young, really young, but [it is] really interesting, that someone so young and so good plays with big confidence. And the keeper, too. Sorry. I forgot [Joe] Hart.
"You can see me at a lot of [Premier League] games for this reason – I try to monitor all the players. I know very well the value of the players. But that is their value with their club. Now is different. For this reason it was important when I told you the game against Ghana we could see 11 new players. For that it was important."
Wilshere urged Carroll to join him in pushing to play for the Under-21s at the European Championship in Denmark in the summer. Wilshere said: "Definitely [the Liverpool striker should play for the Under-21s]. He's had a big move this year and is progressing as a player all the time. The goal he scored [against Ghana] will be massive for his confidence. It's up to him if he wants to go in the summer."
In terms of his own desire to play in Denmark, Wilshere said: "It can only be good for my career. If you look at the Germans, when they won the Under-21 tournament [in 2009] they went to the World Cup and had such a good tournament.
"It's important to start winning international tournaments early and, hopefully, you can take it to the world stage. I want to play but it's up to [Under-21s manager] Stuart Pearce, Fabio Capello and my manager at Arsenal [Arsène Wenger] – they will talk about it and see what's best for me."
Wilshere dismissed any notion that playing tournament football in June could harm his performances come next season. "To be truthful I feel fitter than ever, fresh," he said.Reuse content