A few weeks ago we covered Argentina, and how with several young players coming through the ranks they were set for a bright future. It got me thinking – how about England? With Premier League levels of English players actually getting regular game time, you would think not, but below the national team are several teams where England have some fantastic young players that if given the chance, could come through. The current problem is a mix in players – older ones who have been brought into the game with different training methods. The younger players seem to have a smoother, quicker style of passing and moving – then it gets to Rooney, who slows the play down completely. It’s currently counter productive! In 3 years time, these kids will be between 21-25, and given a new-age manager who is willing to utilise the youngsters, they could do well in Russia
One thing I picked up was that being released can often be a blessing – one example being Henry Lansbury. Sold by Arsenal to Notts Forest a couple of seasons ago, he is now really impressing at at 24, could well be picked up by a bigger team and then into the England setup he was part of just 18 months ago. We could easily talk about the likes of Berahino, Kane or Austin – but everyone is aware of them. In this article we look a little deeper, to some of the much younger stars that will be heading towards the national team, if they are given a chance!
There are three or four coming through and impressing at differing levels – Jamaal Blackman of Chelsea is just one – but the two I think will come through, and one that is already proven to an extent is Jack Butland – another from Birmingham’s talent pool. Over 100 appearances at a senior league level, 27 caps for the Under 21’s and a single one for the Senior team in 2012. At just 21, he could soon overtake the likes of Forster and Foster to be the No 2 behind Joe Hart. Then you have another option who is currently on loan at Preston – Sam Johnstone of Man Utd. It doesn’t look like he will ever get the chance at Man Utd, but like Tom Heaton among many he will probably end up at a Championship club and then work his way back up from there, having appeared for several England teams at youth levels.
Aside from the obvious choices in Nathaniel Clyne, who has rose to prominence with Southampton, as did Calum Chambers (now Arsenal) the one to catch the eye is Leeds’ Sam Byram. He has made over 100 Championship apps, and really impressed in an often average side. Linked with many Premier League clubs – he could be an example of someone to break onto the International scene without appearing for the Youth teams. On the other side of the pitch – it’s hard to look past anyone other than Luke Shaw and Danny Rose representing England behind Leighton Baines – both impressive and appearing for top teams at the moment.
To start with – Spurs’ Eric Dier is probably a future starter. Quick paced, good on the ball and an eye for goal – a sure-fire star for the national team. Other than that for me there are three standout option: Harry Magure (Hull), Jamaal Lascelles (Forest/Newcastle) and Ben Gibson (Boro). In 3 years in the Sheff Utd 1st team – Maguire racked up over 150 appearances, and 12 goals. Now at Hull, and on loan at Wigan – he should really start to find his feet and start to appear more for the Under 21’s. Lascelles has been snapped up by Newcastle, while remaining on loan at Forest. He has suffered a few injury problems – but is impressive. Next season he will probably stay at Newcastle, with the likes of Mike Williamson uninspiring to say the least. Another that is good on the ball, and in the air – he is seen as a future star, having been linked with Arsenal as an 18 year old – and recently in the Under 21’s. Can only get better! Lastly, Ben Gibson – over 100 apps for Boro, and impressing this season and last. The rate he is going he may not be there for long – another who is a key part of the current Under 21’s team.
This is where the national team seems to have a bit of a shortage – Wilshere is massively overrated and injury prone/made of very thin glass. Jordan Henderson, like many – fails to impress there. Rooney in the CAM role is okay, but he is nearing 30. Ross Barkley was seen by many as the future of the England midfielder, a Gazza type player. However – I think he was hyped up way too young and thrown in too soon as well. A lot of football – burnout possibly, and very poor performances lead to stats such as 1 assist in his last 60 games – there are many kids who only get sub appearances who have done better! He needs to concentrate on club form, and go back into the Under 21’s side and build from there.
Bar him – there are some impressive options which give me much hope for the next 5-10 years. James Ward-Prowse is an excellent prospect. Good on the ball, going forward and great passing – over 80 appearances for Southampton since 2011, and at just 20 – impressive. He has also appeared 12 times for the Under 21’s, with 3 goals. A younger option is Jordan Rossiter of Liverpool. He made his debut in the Capital One Cup earlier this season, scoring a cracking goal. Seen as the future of Liverpool’s central midfield role, and compared to many great players. Next – Will Hughes – scouted by all the top clubs, including Barcelona who compiled a dossier on the Blonde-haired star. With excellent passing, dribbling and an eye for goal, he is one to keep an eye on. 120 games, 10 goals and just 20!
This is where the youth teams are fairly well stocked. There is a lot of talent – from the well known Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (another Southampton Academy graduate) to Josh Murphy. There is plenty of talent!
Firstly – Nathan Redmond – over 100 career apps, and a handful of goals, but it’s his skill that has stood out. Currently with Norwich, I’m surprised he has not been snapped up by a bigger side with his talent! Jordon Ibe has really broken onto the scene recently with a couple of eye catching performances for Liverpool – both league and Europa League. Although just 19, he reminds me of a younger Raheem Sterling. Last season he spent at Derby, where he scored 5 goals in 20 league games. Now, he has made 7 apps for the Reds this season and really stood out. Patrick Roberts is a younger option – at 18 he is now fully integrated in Fulham’s starting 11, and impressing either behind the striker or on the right wing. He has made 5 appearances for the Under 19’s, and scored 4. One to watch! Tom Ince has fallen off the radar after impressing for Blackpool with 30 odd goals in 100 games. He could have gone to Monaco or Inter, but went to Hull – and did not get many chances before going on loan to Derby, where he has scored 5 goals in 4 games so far! 3 goals in 18 Under 21 games too – he could be a dark horse if he can retain this current form!
England are well stocked here for the present – with Harry Kane and Saido Berahino coming through nicely, and Danny Welbeck and Danny Sturridge firing for the national team – we are good! However, there are some kids coming through that look very good. James Wilson has broken into the Man Utd 1st team squad – and has scored 4 goals in 17 odd appearances. He was impressive in the youth teams, firing in a lot of goals in not many games. He could do with a loan, the same way Welbeck truly proved himself – before he gets any further at Man Utd – and he still has not appeared for the Under 21’s! Adam Armstrong is another – currently at Newcastle, making a handful of senior appearances at just 18. 10 goals in 12 for the Under 17’s, and now 3 in 3 for the Under 18’s – he is one to watch. Short in stature, low centre of gravity, great skill and footwork, not to mention a wicked turn of pace and finishing that most senior players would be proud of. Prolific in the youth teams. Scarily talented! Devante Cole is one I really like – Man City is his team but he has bagged 10 goals in 31 games this season in League One, and at 19 could follow in the footsteps of his father, Andy. He’s over 6ft tall, and is one that should be in the Under 21’s quite soon. Jordy Hiwula is another Man City youngster than is on track to become a star. He is now on loan at Walsall, where has bagged 3 in 8 games. He is highly regarded at City, but I fear with their raft of foreign talent drafted in every season he will end up at a Championship club, but not for long. Like mentioned at the start it could be a good thing for him.
The point of this was to show that despite the critisism from many, England do produce good youngsters – the problem is their attitude once they make it big. Look at Nile Ranger – huge contract with Newcastle, and looked to be on the road to being a properly good player – but his attitude was awful and after getting arrested more times than I’ve had hot dinners, he is now in the Championship with Blackpool. Released from every club he had been at! If these players keep their noses clean, I don’t see why most, if not all should be getting into the Under 21’s right now, and possibly the Senior team in a few years time. My top picks from these are Hughes, Dier, Byram, Redmond, Ibe and Armstrong. All seem to behaving themselves and working hard towards a career in the sport. 3 of those 6 are currently in the Championship, and probably shouldn’t be – Byram was an £8m target for Man City not so long ago – and would be ideal for someone like Newcastle or Swansea, where he would get good game time. Hughes has been massively overpriced @ £14m by our favourite Dutch-English coach, Schteve McClaren. For that price, he would need to be tried and tested in the Premier League – and if Derby get promoted – he could well be!
Anyway – that’s all from me!