Why Mason Mount is rising to the challenge as England squad competition hots up

Gareth Southgate is not short of options for the attacking positions in his squad – but Chelsea star Mason Mount is rising to the challenge

Mason Mount of England is challenged by Adolfo Hirsch of San Marino during the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying match.

No player on the field made more key passes than Mason Mount as England beat San Marino 5-0 – and he only played 45 minutes.

The Chelsea man bossed the midfield in the first half as the Three Lions put their Group I counterparts to the sword at Wembley.

Sign up to our World of Sport newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He was involved in the opener for James Ward-Prowse’s first England goal, and he was also the player who cut out the poor clearance ahead of setting up Raheem Sterling to make it 3-0.

England led by three at the break, but it really should’ve been more – and Mount certainly played his part as he continuously picked through the San Marino defence and kept managing to find a pocket of space with one touch of the ball.

Granted, it was against a side ranked 210th in the world – that’s the bottom, by the way – but ultimately you can only play against what’s put in front of you. And that’s what Mount did.

According to Opta, his eight chances created at Wembley was the most in a European World Cup qualifier since the great Xavi managed nine against Bosnia & Herzegovina back in 2008 – and he played the full 90 minutes.

Mount, who shot to prominence under Frank Lampard last season, continues to flourish under Thomas Tuchel and is well on course to set a new personal best goal and assist return at Stamford Bridge.

Gareth Southgate isn’t short of a midfielder or two right now, though. And Mount is battling it out against the likes of Jack Grealish and Phil Foden for a starting spot in the build-up to the 2020 European Championships.

Speaking earlier this week, Mount gave his thoughts on that competition, saying, “We all know there are so many good players in this team, players that are not here at the moment, with us, we just want to continue to be the best we can be, we’re always working hard.

“I’ve seen Jack, Phil do brilliant things. It motivates me to want to do the same, and continue to do well. We all understand how many good players we have in this team. It excites us as players to know that we’ve got that, as we all have the same goal of winning things, and really doing great things with our country, that’s the most important thing.”

He's already booked his spot on the plane, you’d think. Regardless of whether Southgate has decided if he’s first choice or not come Euro 2020 (his starts in the last six England games suggest that he’s in with a good shout), the 22-year-old is showing time and time again that he’s most certainly worth the hype.

With a 100% dribble success (4/4) against La Serenissima, an 89% pass completion and three more key passes than any other player on the pitch, he gave another good account of himself in what was just his 10th international appearance.

The opposition gets tougher in Albania but the goal remains the same. It’s all about taking one more step towards Qatar 2022, and to have a bit of fun while doing it.