Whatever the fate of the Under-21s tomorrow night, an England age-group team will still be in contention for honours as the Under-17s will be around 30 minutes into their World Cup campaign.
John Peacock's team start with a tie against surprise qualifiers Rwanda, in Pachua, Mexico, at 9pm. They also face Canada and Uruguay in the 24-team competition.
Nathaniel Chalobah, the highly rated Chelsea defender, captains the team, though his acclimatisation to the heat and altitude was delayed as he had to complete his GCSE exams before flying out. Everton's Hallam Hope, who has 10 goals in 13 appearances, is likely to be the main source of goals.
The squad includes six Liverpool players, among them Raheem Sterling, the striker signed for a £600,000 down-payment from QPR last season. Crewe, now in League Two, but a traditional talent nursery, have three players. One player with a pedigree is Brighton's Jake Caskey. His father, former Tottenham, Reading and Notts County midfielder Darren, captained England to the European Under-18 title 18 years ago. Seven English-based players are present in other teams including Arsenal's Alfred Mugabo, who may play against England for Rwanda. This is the 14th Fifa Under-17 World Cup, but only the second time England have qualified. In 2007 a squad including Henri Lansbury and Danny Welbeck of the current Under-21s beat Brazil but lost to Germany in the quarter-finals.