Gareth Southgate says Luke Shaw's new-found aggression and desire convinced him to recall the Manchester United defender for next month's matches against Spain and Switzerland.
Injury-plagued Shaw has not played for his country since 2017, but the left-back has returned at the expense of Old Trafford team-mate Ashley Young in England's first squad since the World Cup.
The 23-year-old was subjected to stinging criticism from Jose Mourinho last season as the United manager questioned his approach to training and commitment to the club.
Shaw, who could hardly walk for several months after suffering a broken leg while playing for United in 2015, has enjoyed a strong start to the new campaign, scoring the first goal of his professional career against Leicester this month.
England boss Southgate believes the former Southampton star is now a tougher and more driven player because of his travails.
"He has had a difficult period adapting to a new club, a horrendous injury, but he has had an extra edge to his game," Southgate said.
"When it's been going against his team he has been one who has shown aggression and a desire not to lose.
"I'm really pleased for him that he looks like he's playing with confidence."
Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy has also earned a first call-up with Joe Gomez and James Tarkowski returning for the UEFA Nations League game at Wembley against Spain on September 8 and friendly in Leicester with Switzerland three days later.
Southgate has also given Adam Lallana a recall after the Liverpool midfielder was left out of the World Cup squad following an injury-plagued campaign.
Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek keeps his place after impressing in Russia in the summer, despite playing just 22 minutes for Chelsea this season.
"We're on the back of a successful tournament," said Southgate. "Not too much can have changed in that time because we reached the semi-final and there have only been three league games.
"We had some mature conversations with Jamie Vardy, Gary Cahill and Ashley Young in terms of the desire to look at younger players. We had five changes anyway and we felt that was enough. We also won't stand still.
"Luke Shaw is still only 23, Joe Gomez is 21 so we have lowered the age again. We are aware of the excitement around other young players but it might be a bit too early for some."
England squad to face Spain on September 8 and Switzerland on September 11:
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Jack Butland (Stoke), Alex McCarthy (Southampton)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)
Forwards: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)