Roy Hodgson praised Saints pair Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw – but admitted he is no nearer choosing which left backs will be in his World Cup squad for Brazil.
Shaw made his England debut as a second half sub in the 1-0 win over Denmark at Wembley tonight, replacing Ashley Cole, his direct rival to be understudy to Leighton Baines.
Both men proved what they had to in the game and Hodgson admitted his selection problem had actually got harder after their respective performances.
“Yes, but there’s a lot of matches to be played and matches to be seen,” he said.
“I will be seeing a lot of Luke Shaw, Leighton Baines and hopefully Ashley Cole in the coming months.
“There is a lot of water to pass under the bridge between now and May 13.”
He added: “I thought they were both very good.
“There is something to choose between them because they are different players and all players are different but I thought our performance at left back in the first half Ashley got forward well and his defending was good.
“Then Luke came on to take his place and carried on in the same way.
“You’ve been pushing me the last few days and making it clear it’s going to be a difficult choice at left back and Leighton Baines didn’t get a look in.
“I fear that after this game you’ll be pushing me even harder in the future to give a decision as to which player I am going to use and which will understudy him.”
Hodgson confessed that he wasn’t surprised by the performance of Cole, who has struggled to get a game for Chelsea.
“I have to be honest and say I’m not,” he reflected.
“I’m a great admirer of Ashley Cole.
“To play 107 times for England and be the best left back in the world as he was year after year I think that demands respect and he’s certainly got my respect.
“I’ve watched him in training these last couple of days and he’s been unbelievably good and very fit – in actual fact he’s been up there at the top of the running statistics.
“There’s never any question about his fitness.
“His only problem is that he’s a specialist player, you don’t normally play two left backs in your team, you normally play with one, and at the moment in his club side his manager prefers somebody else.”
When asked directly about the performances of Lallana and Shaw, the England boss said: “They were very good, both.
“Quite frankly I don’t think you could get me to say anything negative about any of the younger players who came in.
“At one stage in the second half we only had Gary Cahill, Joe Hart, Glenn Johnson and Steven Gerrard who can consider themselves as really senior players with a number of games behind them.
“We had seven others who are finding their way and yet still we virtually didn’t give Denmark a sniff at our goal and we created a lot of goal chances.
“That’s a positive thing and I wanted to use the game in that way and make certain that these young players had a chance to get out there at Wembley and play.
“I’m sure that Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana will go back to Southampton feeling very happy with their performances.”