Kenny Swain's side put on a tremendous performance in The Victory Shield.
The Sky Sports Victory Shield
7.40pm, Friday 3 October 2008
Ballymena Showgrounds, Ballymena FC
Click here for full tournament details
England began their Victory Shield campaign in impressive form as they trounced Northern Ireland in a one-sided encounter at Ballymena, with Benik Afobe notching a fine brace and Louis Laing catching the eye at the heart of the defence.
Afobe opened the scoring after just seven minutes with a composed strike from Arsenal forward Afobe, who brushed off the attentions of the Northern Ireland defence to side-foot past Connor Brennan.
Despite remaining in control of the tie and hitting the woodwork on three occasions, England would take just a solitary goal lead into the interval but no sooner had the second period got underway and they had doubled the advantage, this time with the unfortunate Linfield defender Ben Oliver diverting the ball into his own net.
Ross Barkley headed home from a corner ten minutes later, then Afobe poached his second from eight yards out to make it 4-0. England were crusing and Louis Lang was giving an extremely promising display from central defence as the Sunderland defender strode out confidently and showed great vision with his passing.
Middlesbrough forward Jake Fowler provided a fifth with an accurate left-foot effort after breaking through the Irish defence, and Manchester United midfielder Ravel Morrison completed the rout with a tap-in after Brennan spilled an earlier shot.
Head Coach Kenny Swain admitted that he was pleased with almost every aspect of the dominant display - although there was a spell at the end of the first period that could have been improved upon.
Swain said: "We started very well but I think that for about 15 minutes towards the end of the first-half we got a little sloppy.
"The way they kept the ball so well impressed me most, they look an assured bunch. But I think to be fair, when we saw them six weeks ago as a group of 40 or 50 boys they looked a talented bunch. I was quite pleased and obviously as a staff we were all excited to be working with them this year.
"I thought that everyone who got on the field caught my eye; they're all special to me. They're talented players and with a little help from the clubs and the foundations and experience they get there, things will be looking good."
1 Jack Butland (Birmingham City), 2 Bruno Pilatos (Middlesbrough) 16 Connor Morris (Charlton Athletic) 51), 3 Luke Garbutt (Leeds United), 4 Joshua McEachran (Chelsea), 5 Louis Laing (Sunderland), 6 Tom Thorpe (Manchester United) (17 Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea) 51), 7 Zele Ismail (Wolverhampton Wanderers) (12 Robert Hall (West Ham United) 41), 8 Ross Barkley (Everton), 9 Benik Afobe (Arsenal) (18 Jake Fowler (Middlesbrough) 64), 10 Chuks Aneke (Arsenal) (14 Josh Rees (Arsenal) 41), 11 Ravel Morrison (Manchester United).
Substitutes Not Used
13 Jemal Blackman (Chelsea), 15 Aziz Deen-Conteh (Chelsea)
Click here for the 2008 Sky Sports Victory Shield schedule and table.