Joe Gomez, Kieran Trippier keen to make their case for World Cup squad
Joe Gomez was putting up wall charts in his parents' house at the last World Cup -- now the defender is pressing his case to be involved on the biggest stage with England.
The 20-year-old was one of several surprise call-ups to an experimental senior squad, with Liverpool teammates Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Daniel Sturridge among the names conspicuous by their absence.
A lack of game time cost the duo their place, whereas Gomez's run under Jurgen Klopp means he in line to make his senior debut in the upcoming friendlies against Germany and Brazil.
Both opponents offer quite the baptism of fire for a level-headed player who has come a long way since England bombed out of the World Cup in 2014.
"It was probably towards the back end of 2014 when I signed a deal at Charlton,'' the defender from southeast London said. "Even though I'm young, it was a while back. It seems a while ago.
"Obviously I watched the games at my mum and dad's house in Catford.
"I remember getting the timetables from magazines -- either Match of the Day or Match Attax, and just tuning in and keeping up to date.
"It would have taken a lot to convince me that would be a reality [to go this time].
"Obviously I would grab the chance if it was put in front of me. It does seem like quite a journey. It's had its ups and downs.
"I had a season when I was injured and it took a lot to stay strong through that.
"But this is the sort of thing that was my motivation to get the opportunity to play for England at senior level and I'm just happy to have the opportunity to play.''
Gomez is joined by Kieran Trippier in the squad, and the Tottenham right-back has similar aspirations of joining up with the senior team when they head to Russia for the World Cup next summer.
If Trippier, 27, does make the plane nobody would be happier than his father Chris Trippier, a die-hard England fan who has a long-standing tradition of hoisting a super-size St George's Cross outside his house to celebrate tournaments.
The local authorities did not always share in the fun but Trippier has fond memories to look back on.
"My dad is mad for England. He had a big flag in his garden,'' Kieran said. "It's huge. A massive pole with a massive England flag and he brought the telly into the garden when it was nice weather. I can never forget it.
"The council tried to make him take it down, but he didn't. They wrote letters to him and everything but he said: 'I'm not taking it down.'
"The neighbours love it. I don't know who complained about it, but it's hilarious.
"We have a bit of banter about it to this day.''
Trippier is in no doubt it is being prepared for another outing in June.
"He's already said he'll put it up next summer,'' he added.
That kind of dedication shows a deep-rooted passion for the national side still exists in the country, a notion that was called into question as Southgate's side wrapped up qualifying last month with a pair of colourless wins over Slovenia and Lithuania.
The manager has admitted his team need to be more entertaining to win back some of the faltering fanbase, but any suggestion that pulling on the shirt does not mean enough holds no water with the Trippier family.
"I'll never forget when we were in France [for his debut], my parents were both crying their eyes out,'' Trippier said. "To make it to the senior squad, it was one of the proudest moments.
"From playing in the Championship I've always dreamed about playing for England, putting on the jersey. I can remember now, it still gives me a bit of shivers, the France game, when I put the jersey on and I knew I was going to play for England in my debut.''
Trippier still has work to do to ensure he is in England's World Cup squad rather than watching alongside his family, with just over 100 minutes on international football under his belt and Liverpool's Nathaniel Clyne on his way back from injury.
But his accomplished performances for Spurs, not least in their recent Champions League win over Real Madrid, are helping build a strong case.
"You can learn a lot playing against Real Madrid. These are the teams you want to play against,'' he said.
"I want to play as many games as I can to hopefully prove that I can be on that plane to Russia. Germany and Brazil will be a great test for us too. These are world-class teams and individual players as well.''