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Five England U20 players to shine

England
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England's future bright after reaching Under-20 World Cup final

Thanks to players like Dominic Solanke, who scored a pair of goals in a 3-1 win against Italy in the U20 World Cup semifinals on Thursday, the future is looking up for English football.

England reached the Under-20 World Cup final in South Korea after a hugely impressive come-from-behind 3-1 win against Italy on Thursday, thanks to a brace from Dominic Solanke and a goal from Ademola Lookman.

They are the first England squad of any age group to reach a World Cup final since 1966, and they will face Venezuela on Sunday.

After the victory over the Italians, here are five reasons the future is bright for English football:

They play as a team

Below the Under-20s, England's youth teams are built around prodigious talents like Marcus Edwards (nicknamed "Mini Messi" at Tottenham) or Man City's skilful Jadon Sancho, but Paul Simpson's squad have reached the U20 final without having a standout star. It's true that against Italy, Sheyi Ojo dazzled from the bench and Solanke, who will join Liverpool from Chelsea, was excellent, but England's best performers in this tournament have been industrious right-back Jonjoe Kenny and the steady play of holding midfielder Lewis Cook.

This team's success has been built on industry, as evidenced from the first match against Argentina, and teamwork. Given that England's senior sides have so often been accused of being arrogant, egotistical and pampered, it is refreshing to see a successful England team so devoid of all those things and winning.

Winning with style

England may be industrious but they are no "cloggers" -- they outplayed a more experienced Italian team with attractive and intricate passing football. It would have been easy to forget the game plan after Italy's surprise second-minute goal, but England continued to move the ball across the pitch in search of an opening.

If they were a little unadventurous in the first half, England were absolutely superb after the break, hitting the Italians -- jaded from extra-time in their quarterfinal win -- with wave after wave of attacks. Ojo and Solanke were given the freedom to run with the ball, while the full-backs Kenny and Kyle Walker-Peters were tasked with peppering Italy's box with crosses.

Strength in depth

It's also worth noting some of the players who are not part of this squad. In common with Italy (and most teams in South Korea), England selected several eligible U20 players for the upcoming U21 European Championship in Poland instead.

Celtic's treble-winning winger Patrick Roberts and Huddersfield promotion hero Izzy Brown (on loan from Chelsea) are both injured, while Tammy Abraham is one of the players in Aidy Boothroyd's U21 squad. Manchester United pair Axel Tuanzebe and Cameron Northwick-Jackson, both of whom have recently made an impression in the Premier League, were also eligible for Simpson to select. The senior squad can occasionally look worryingly thin but there is strength in depth in English football at this level.

Paul Simpson has expertly managed this U20 squad, which is the first England side of any age group to reach a World Cup final since 1966.

Paul Simpson impresses

And what of the manager? Previously, Simpson's biggest job was as manager of Preston North End and his most recent club position was as manager of non-league Norwich Victoria. Yet with only a few months to prepare, he has led an English team to a first World Cup final at any level since 1966 and done so in the right way. For all the complaining about the lack of English managerial talent, the 50-year-old has a bright future and it is telling that he was open-minded enough to spend time coaching at a Portuguese youth academy before this appointment.

Against Italy, he made the right changes -- introducing game-changer Ojo early in the second half -- and England's impressive game management with a 2-1 lead was a testament both to the players' maturity and to their manager's organisational skills.

The players are at the right clubs

Of the last England U20 team to reach a World Cup semifinal, only four players went on to win a senior cap, although many had distinguished Premier League careers. However, this England U20 team has a good chance of ensuring that, for the majority, this is not the highlight of their international career.

Of Simpson's squad, only Reading keeper Luke Southwood, Spurs full-back Kyle Walker-Peters and Solanke are without a full competitive senior appearance; 16 of them played senior league football, while the squad already boasts 72 Premier League appearances between them.

There are five Evertonians in the squad, three from Liverpool and two from Tottenham: all massive clubs who are committed to giving youth a chance. Only the Chelsea trio have reason to worry that their career could stagnate.

Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.

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