In Dele Alli’s mind he is good enough to play for Real Madrid.
And Gareth Southgate provided the sobering reminder that the Tottenham forward is still young enough to be picked for England’s Under-21s.
This has been a difficult, frustrating international break for Dele, 21.
He joined the England squad just a few days after Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino claimed his man was the best 21-year-old footballer in the world.
But Three Lions manager Southgate clearly still needs some convincing.
Dele is fighting for his place in this England side, falling behind Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling and his deputy Jesse Lingard of Manchester United in the battle to wear the No 10 shirt at the World Cup in Russia. Dele has work to do now.
Who may get the chop or not?
GARETH SOUTHGATE has used 46 players as England boss — but must rely on half that many when he names his 23 for Russia.
The Three Lions chief says he knows his ideal team to face Tunisia in their Volgograd opener on June 18.
Here, SunSport look at where his troops stand in the pecking order for England’s World Cup squad.
Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Joe Gomez, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jamie Vardy, Jesse Lingard.
Joe Hart, James Tarkowski, Ashley Young, Jake Livermore, Adam Lallana, Danny Welbeck.
Tom Heaton, Luke Shaw, Ryan Bertrand, Phil Jones, Michael Keane, Jack Wilshere, Harry Winks, Lewis Cook, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Dominic Solanke, Jermain Defoe, Daniel Sturridge.
Nathaniel Clyne, Aaron Cresswell, Wayne Rooney, Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling, Nathan Redmond, James Ward-Prowse, Jack Cork, Theo Walcott, Tammy Abraham.
Southgate said: “I have a problem because I have Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jamie Vardy — so there is a huge choice and I have to make those choices.
“I don’t foresee a scenario where they don’t come to Russia, but I am an England manager and I have to make decisions. There is no reason Dele will not come and he can make a huge impact there.
“He has so much ability and with all those guys he is another one at an age where he could be playing for the Under-21s.
“There was no ulterior motive to leaving him out. It’s a bit like Kyle Walker, it’s a bit like Ox, there are others we wanted to learn more about and we wanted to protect Dele as well with his little problem.
“He has the ability and I am looking forward to seeing him over the next few weeks. His relationship with Harry Kane in the team is also important.
“I can only reiterate that Dele is a very important player. He wasn’t able to finish every session and we had to manage the problem he had when he came into the camp.”
Dele’s groin injury was monitored during the international fortnight, but it was not serious enough to prevent him playing against Italy on Tuesday. Southgate simply decided not to use him.
He likes the look of Sterling in the No 10, the role in the hole that seems to excite the forward. Sterling took responsibility against Italy, controlling England’s attacks with those slalom runs and eye-catching dribbles.
He looks the part again, especially after his man-of-the-match performance against Holland. Sterling will take some shifting from that position.
Southgate added: “If we play 3-4-3 then Raheem can play No 10, as he did against France last year, but could he play as one of two forwards because he plays on the wing for City?
“We know he likes playing through the middle though and he enjoys that.
“He had a little spell at Liverpool where he was behind Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, running and dribbling through he middle of the park.
“He is playing with confidence, speaking with confidence, as we saw before the game. Raheem, Dele and Jesse are expressive players and they need to feel freedom on the pitch.
“It is different for defenders because they need structure, but the forwards needs structure as well as freedom, and those guys enjoy that.”
Southgate is tapping in to that. This is his England, establishing a playing style that these boys must buy into if they are to stand any chance of starting the World Cup opener against Tunisia.
It is an admirable attempt, a genuine effort to make an England side meet Southgate’s exacting standards. We will soon see where it takes him.
His next big task is to trim the squad, to name his World Cup 23 plus the four or five players on a provisional list in case of emergencies.
Breaking the bad news is always a big deal for an England coach, but Southgate will do the dirty work in a dignified, respectful manner.
He added: “I want to run a performance camp rather than a selection camp because then there is a different feel for everybody.
“Sven did it the right way. Name 23 plus five on stand-by. If you have 28 or 30 who think they have a chance then there’s a lot of uncertainty and anxiety.
“I was there for Gazza when he was left out of France 98 and I was one of the next in to see Glenn Hoddle. Mine didn’t take too long after that.”
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