Gareth Southgate has classed Phil Foden among the "talented players" who can count themselves unlucky to be on the outer for England.
Considered one of the top prospects of his generation, the Manchester City midfielder has been made to wait for a maiden senior call-up as he seeks regular minutes at club level.
Foden, 19, scored for England's Under-21s in a 3-0 win over Albania the day after Southgate's side hammered Montenegro 7-0 at Wembley.
More of the same for City, for whom he has made four substitute appearances in the Premier League this season, could yet catapult the highly rated teenager into selection contention for Euro 2020.
"You know, we're still looking at Foden and thinking that it's a case of when, rather than if, unless something goes wildly off-track for him," Southgate said when assessing his options.
"So, there are some very good players, talented players that weren't in this squad. Obviously, guys that have been with us before like Dele [Alli] as well.
"We have got incredible competition for places, particularly in those attacking five positions."
The sheer number of players blocking Foden's path poses a similar problem to the one he faces at the Etihad Stadium.
Mason Mount, James Maddison, Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are among those vying for spots in Southgate's preferred 4-3-3 system.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another in contention to claim a starting berth alongside Jordan Henderson and Harry Winks, who appears to have edged ahead of Declan Rice in the holding role.
Liverpool midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain continued his fine form by scoring the opener against Montenegro on Thursday, having battled back from a serious knee injury suffered two months before the World Cup.
"In that time there have been a lot of other boys who have come through," Oxlade-Chamberlain said.
"There are different players and new dynamics, so it is nice to slot back in and push myself to keep improving and try to find something different to help this team move forward.
"I've made steps forward for sure with where I was before. I've got that feeling back of attacking and getting into areas and a few goals help that and help my confidence and for others to say I have found my form."