England’s victory over Germany in Berlin last night raised eyebrows.
It also posed a lot of questions for Roy Hodgson and the English public alike about the best team to select for the opening game of the European Championships in Marseille against Russia.
The Three Lions were without record goalscorer and biggest name Wayne Rooney because of injury, and in truth, those that filled that gap stood out the most against the current world champions.
Harry Kane gave the German defence a torrid time all evening and scored an excellent goal to make it 2-1 as England fought back from 2-0 down.
His partner in crime at Tottenham, Dele Alli, put in a performance befitting of an established top class international instead of someone who is still a teenager.
Jamie Vardy has been in wonderful form for Leicester City this season and equalised for England with a simply sumptuous backheel that typified the confidence of this newfound England frontline.
For England, all of this bodes well.
But, for Rooney, this could be bad news.
Without the Manchester United striker, England were fluid, enterprising and fearless. And on a few occasions with him in the team, England have been accused of looking flat.
Certainly, I’m not going to sit here and say that England are far better off with their record scorer out of squad completely. Regardless of his critics, and he’s had a lot, he remains an absolutely excellent footballer.
It is difficult to remember an England team that didn’t have Rooney at the centre of its attacking plans since he announced himself on the international scene as an 18-year-old at Euro 2004 in Portugal.
England’s fourth highest appearance maker is the consummate team player and still must go to the European Championships even if he isn’t a guaranteed starter.
Everyone in the England camp have spoken glowingly over his leadership and attitude off the pitch and his emphasis on team building and integration with each other.
Things such as that go a long in a tournament and will be important in what will be a squad with few older heads.
England have firmly exited the Golden Generation era that died at the 2014 World Cup.
For a lot of the squad, including Vardy, Alli, Kane and another Tottenham man who starred in Germany Eric Dier, this will be their first taste of international tournament football, should they be fit.
Others such as Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley had only fleeting tournament experiences in Brazil 2014.
The emergence of this new England generation could well galvanise Rooney, who is not afraid to meet a challenge head on. He certainly would not go without a fight and this newfound competition for his England place could motivate him to play at his very best.
Victory in Germany does not prove England to be anything close to the finished articles. It is difficult to blame Jack Butland, who was beaten at his near post for the first goal by Toni Kroos after fracturing his ankle (He is expected to be out for 3 months and miss the Euros as a result).
The host’s second goal saw England’s centre backs lose Mario Gomez as the Fiorentina striker powered home unmarked. This showed us that England’s defence still needs to shore up when it comes up against high quality opposition.
Despite England not being the finished article, the victory does show that with or without Rooney, there could be light for the Three Lions going forwards.