As England continued their perfect start to this World Cup qualification campaign with a 2-0 win in Albania, Mason Mount once again proved his worth to this England side and not just because of his goal. Gareth Southgate has long been an admirer of the England midfielder, but this season for both club and country, the 22-year-old has come into his own.
England started with Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Mason Mount in a midfield three, which gave the Chelsea midfielder a license to push forward and provide an attacking threat; but he also provided a rigidity and toughness that is needed in international football, but not often associated with him.
The unwarranted criticism he receives online is now so misplaced that with these recent performances ahead of the European Championships it would definitely be a surprise if he doesn’t start in England’s opener v Croatia. In fact, according to Opta, Mount is the first Chelsea player to score or assist in three consecutive England appearances since Frank Lampard in 2013.
The players around him in that midfield three look likely to change. Phillips and Rice may be slightly too defensive and if Jordan Henderson returns to full fitness, England could have found the perfect balance to their midfield. With Jack Grealish out injured and likely to feature in one of the front three positions if he is fit and Phil Foden occupying one of those spots tonight, Mount looks to have the perfect blend of robustness and flair to thrive in England’s midfield. In the first half alone, no player made more tackles, while he also won six of his nine duels.
His goal against Albania, following Harry Kane’s opener, was his fourth in 15 England appearances, but showed exactly how he has improved and matured this season. His run in the left channel was well-timed, but his composure in front of goal allowed him to finish calmly, and secure the Three Lions all three points. Mount has been simply superb in the past two months.
Southgate, who has come in for a lot of unwarranted criticism in recent months, is sometimes guilty of being too pragmatic, but given the Three Lions results on the international stage under his management, you have to say he has got most things right. Certainly, the development of players such as Mount should be somewhat attributed to the England manager, who has shown no big-club bias and been willing to throw young players such as Mount, Bellingham and Foden into the fold when his predecessors may have picked a more experienced option.
Having admitted Thomas Tuchel ‘lit a fire inside of him’ when he was left out of his first Chelsea matchday squad, Mount has gone from strength to strength and proved his worth to club and country on multiple occasions.
You can’t please everybody when it comes to England. That is the fact of the matter. But with Mount, Foden, Grealish, Bellingham and Jadon Sancho all making their debuts under Southgate, England are certainly moving in the right direction. Another win, another clean sheet, job done. It may have only been Albania but against Poland, Mount might just secure himself a starting position at the European Championships.