Under-21s boss Gareth Southgate glad to have in-form Ravel Morrison at his disposal
Gareth Southgate is hoping that Ravel Morrison can continue to fulfil his undoubted potential this week, after making his return to an England squad for the first time since 2010.
The West Ham United schemer has been in fine form with the Hammers this season and scored a stunning solo goal in their win over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Morrison, 20, left White Hart Lane to head straight to St. George’s Park after that game to link up with Southgate’s squad ahead of their games with San Marino and Lithuania.
And all eyes will be on the former Manchester United player, whose last international game was for the U18s against Poland at Wycombe Wanderers nearly three years ago, a match which also saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain make his first appearance for England at any level.
“I was always very aware of Ravel coming through the England junior teams and I’ve spoken to Sam Allardyce at length about his progress,” revealed Southgate, ahead of his squad’s flight to northern Italy on Wednesday morning.
“It’s just great to see a young lad enjoying himself and I loved his comments this week when he said that he’d been reading lots of good things about himself and that must be great for him.
“Young people make such massive leaps and progression at this age and he’s clearly doing that at the moment.
“There are lots of good people at West Ham that have got him in a good place and I think it’s now for us to create an environment for him here where he can express himself and feel comfortable and able to trust the people that are around him.”
With England likely to face a San Marino team determined to keep any scoreline down to a minimum on Thursday, Southgate feels that the likes of Morrison could be crucial for his side.
With an attack-minded squad selected for the games, the Head Coach says the creative players involved were always part of his plans and that Morrison deserves his chance.
He explained: “One thing I said from the off was that I want creative talent in the squad.
“There always has to be a balance of characters and styles of play in any squad, but somebody who can unlock defences are a valuable commodity, especially for the sort of teams we'll find against us, who will make it difficult to break them down."
And Southgate has been impressed with Morrison as an individual both on and off the field since meeting him on Sunday evening.
He added: “Ravel’s a charming lad, and anybody who meets him would tell you that.
"How do young people learn? Unfortunately, we usually learn by making mistakes and it’s what you do therein that’s important.
“With Ravel, we always maintained a dialogue with Manchester United and now West Ham about where he was as a player and if it’s a good moment to pick him.
“There’s no point in picking a player if the club feel it’s not the right message to send the player at that moment in time for varying reasons.
“We asked if it was a positive to pick him and Sam was absolutely behind it, because he’s been terrific so the next question is how we can make it work for us now.”