A 4-2 play-off victory over Croatia means that England will be present at the 2015 European Under-21 Championship.
The Young Lions contingent Gareth Southgate had to call upon was by no means the strongest available to him, with a host of full internationals and proven Premier League talents eligible for selection at the forthcoming tournament in the Czech Republic.
With the competition taking place 12 months prior to Euro 2016 in France, the senior team would certainly benefit if the junior members of Roy Hodgson’s squad participated in the forthcoming Under-21 bash.
The bulk of Germany’s World Cup 2014 winning outfit first savoured success in this tournament and England can’t do any worse adopting the same ethos.
If Southgate was to pick a team of full internationals, overlooking those who did the donkey work in qualifying would unquestionably have grounds to complain, while he’d also come in for heavy criticism from the managers of elite Premier League clubs.
But if he was to select the strongest squad England have ever sent to a U21 Euros – that is to say, it contains as many players capped by the senior side as possible – the starting XI may well look like this:
GK – Jack Butland
RB – Calum Chambers
LB – Luke Shaw
CB – Phil Jones
CB – John Stones
CM – Jack Wilshere
CM – Jonjo Shelvey
CM – Ross Barkley
RW – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
LW – Raheem Sterling
CF – Wilfried Zaha
Between them they boast 89 caps and all bar four play for Champions League clubs.
Of this potential line up, only Butland and Shaw featured in the Croatia double-header, so based on this form, backing fewer than 2.5 full England internationals to feature in Southgate’s squad at 17/20 looks a shrewd bet.
The possibility of all of them participating in the Czech Republic is incredibly slim (over 2.5 senior stars making the plane also pays out 17/20, incidentally), but surely playing in this tournament – one this side would stand a fantastic chance of winning – is a better developmental exercise than playing ancillary roles, if any at all, at the Euro 2016 a year later.