England skipper Rio Ferdinand admits he feels a genuine excitement about the explosion of young talent being given its chance by Fabio Capello in tonight's clash with France at Wembley.
Capello has confirmed that Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll will win their first caps and Kieran Gibbs be handed his first start. It was a reminder to Ferdinand of the thrill he experienced when 13 years ago he made his England debut against Cameroon.
The Manchester United defender said: "There's been a catalogue of injuries but it just gives other people an opportunity. That's the best way to look at it."
He added: "A lot of players have pulled out, and that's disappointing for the manager in preparation for the games coming up. He'd like to see them to build a team. But it opens up the door for others to do well. We've got a lot of young players.
"Stevie (Gerrard) and I were just standing there in training and saying: 'it's a really young squad'.
"It's exciting, really. It's nice. You want to see what these players are like, under the spotlight with England.
"There's no better feeling than seeing a young lad get his first game for England, to take it all in and hopefully cap it off with a good display. It reminds me of how I felt 13 years ago."
Ferdinand has urged Henderson, Carroll, Gibbs and other players not established in the side to seize their chance.
"They've got to grasp these opportunities when they come along because they don't come along very often," he added. "Anyone who does get a chance to play, or even in training, can make an impact. As a young player you have to understand that a lot can be told from how you train.
"If you train well with England, the manager will notice that. It gives the manager something to think about."