The look of an Under 21 squad invariably alters through a qualifying campaign and England’s finished with the emergence of two promising full debutants.
Their hope will be that 17-year-old Jamal Musiala notches a fair few more for the Young Lions and eventually the seniors after scoring his first at this level.
The Bayern Munich forward was born in Stuttgart but his involvement in this camp suggests England should win the allegiance battle with Germany.
Bayern Munich 17-year-old Jamal Musiala scored in an impressive display for England
Callum Hudson-Odoi got England’s opener on a comfortable night for the Under 21s
The Chelsea man cut in from the left and scored to give Aidy Boothroyd’s side the lead early on
ENGLAND U21s 5-0 ALBANIA U21s – MATCH FACTS
England U21s: Bursik, Wilmot, Godfrey, Kelly, Justin, Musiala (Jones 61), Skipp (Da Silva 76), Davies, Buchanan (McNeil 76), Hudson-Odoi (Gallagher 61), Nketiah
Subs not used: Ramsdale, Austin, Lamptey, Panzo
Goals: Hudson-Odoi 5, Justin 26, Musiala 36, Nketiah 52, 86
Albania U21s: Molla, Marku, Adolf Selmani, Sota, Mitaj (Kraja 81), Tuci (Ndrecka 45) Cokaj, Muci (Ademi 68), Dobra (Pellumbi 68), Bullari, Xhixha (Mihana 45)
Subs not used: Harizaj, Kolaj, Kalaj
Bookings: Selmani, Cokaj
The way Musiala took his goal – the third of the night – was a glimpse into the future, drifting off the right, pointing exactly where he wanted a return pass from Oliver Skipp. He effortlessly glides past opponents.
‘I thought Jamal was excellent,’ Aidy Boothoyd said. ‘You can see that physically he’s not finished – he’s going to be a brute of a man.
‘His brain and his feet are the most impressive, he’s razor sharp. He gives me a nice problem now. We want to keep him.’
Callum Hudson-Odoi and James Justin had already put this final qualifier beyond Albania and the second of those arrived thanks to Derby’s Lee Buchanan, another making his first start.
Buchanan, who has only featured in 13 Championship matches, buccaneered from left back, taking four defenders out of the game, and crossed for Justin to place back where it had come from.
That was England’s 32nd goal of the campaign, their highest ever total, and attention now turns to whether they can do themselves justice at the European Championship next year.
The group stages are in March and Boothroyd has ‘around 15 players’ who will definitely make that squad.
Captain Eddie Nketiah will be one of them, of course, and he wriggled a fourth, capitalising on weak defending.
Even after missing a penalty, there remained time for Nketiah to curl his second with four minutes left on a night England might have hit double figures. A rare clean sheet, however, was what pleased the England boss.
‘To be able to score when you’re not playing particularly well is a plus but for me it’s not conceding,’ Boothroyd added. ‘The strikers might win the games but good defences generally win championships.’
Eddie Nketiah scored twice in the second-half as England strolled to victory at Molineux
Arsenal striker Nketiah added to his U21 tally with two goals in a simple win for the youngsters
Leicester defender James Justin snuck in at the back post to score England’s second goal