England are looking to qualify for next summer’s World Cup with 3 important qualifying matches over the next 4 weeks and the potential for two more in November should Roy Hodgson’s side finish second in their group.
The Premier League is full of foreign stars with limited young English talent getting much of a run in any first team. Some fear the future of the English national team but here are 10 players 21 or younger who are looking to hold down their place in a starting eleven and impress the national team boss over the coming months or for the Euro 2016 qualifiers that start next year.
Ross Barkley (19 – Everton)
Already a senior international at the age of 19, Everton’s wonderkid Ross Barkley made his England debut last Friday in a 4-0 win over Moldova. After a couple of short loan spells in the Championship with Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United last season, Barkley has started all three Premier League games for Everton under Roberto Martínez which included scoring in their season opening 2-2 draw at Norwich City. So far he has shown off his technical ability, likes to take players on and have a shot at goal. With the style of football his club manager likes to play, Barkley has the potential to develop into the star he has been touted to be around Goodison Park. The transfer window may have made his chances of holding down a regular spot in the first team at Everton however, with strikers Arouna Koné and Romelu Lukaku coming in (giving Martínez the option to adapt his formation to include two strikers) as well as creative midfielder Gerard Deulofeu brought in on loan from Barcelona, and central midfielders James McCarthy and Gareth Barry joining.
Steven Caulker (21 – Cardiff City)
Cardiff City led the Championship in clean sheets last season as they went on to win the title. Over the summer one of their acquisitions was the big money signing of Steven Caulker from Tottenham Hotspur. The young English centre-back has started all 3 of their Premier League games which has included a 3-2 win over Manchester City and their first clean sheet in a goalless draw at home to Everton. Steven Caulker has already played for England and scored in his only game; a 4-2 loss to Sweden. England were leading 2-1 at the time Caulker was substituted. He’s 6’3” with a solid frame and has shown his composure in playing from the back instead of hoofing the ball up field. Perhaps this was learnt during his loan spell at Swansea City previously. Looks to be a decent threat from set pieces too. Likely to remain a starter for Cardiff City throughout the season subject to dire form or injury, in which case he can push for a recall to the England squad in the near future.
Phil Jones (21 – Manchester United)
Already made 50 Premier League appearances for Manchester United and 8 for the England national team, Phil Jones is still only 21 years of age. So far used for his versatility, having played more than his fare share of games at right-back, centre-back and central midfield. Phil Jones has started all three Premier League games at right-back for Manchester United this season with Raffael suspended. Has not shown any promise as an attacking player which is why I believe he’ll end up behind a central and defensive player with the defensive qualities he has shown. Provided he gets plenty of action under David Moyes this season and England qualify for Brazil then I expect to see Phil Jones on that plane.
Nathan Redmond (19 – Norwich City)
A highly-rated winger who had been hotly tipped as a future star since breaking into the first team at Birmingham City at the age of 16. Already has some Europa League experience under his belt with the Blues and this season is playing in the Premier League for the first time. Whether Artur Boruc should have been beaten at his near post or not, Redmond scored the only goal in last weekend’s 1-0 win over Southampton. A pacey winger who likes to run at defences all day, Redmon has shown his desire to cut in from the left and shoot from the edge of the penalty area. If he can attempt a few more crosses each game and start finding teammates with them then he’ll give himself a chance for a call-up to Roy Hodgson’s England squad in the near future. Has recently impressed for the Under-21s.
Luke Shaw (18 – Southampton)
Shaw was just 17-years old when he made his debut and holds down a regular place at left-back for Southampton in the Premier League last season. Luke Shaw is tipped by many to be the long-term successor of Ashley Cole for England. With Cole and Leighton Baines to compete with, Shaw has not been called up to the senior national team yet. A good dribbler who likes to cross, Shaw needs to be more careful with the ball when passing as he looks to develop into an England international over the coming seasons.
Raheem Sterling (18 – Liverpool)
The highly-rated Liverpool youngster didn’t have the best of summers. Arrested for the alleged assault of his girlfriend and his club side bringing in a number of midfielders during the transfer window. Raheem Sterling has had 48 minutes of Premier League action for Liverpool this season as they top the league with three 1-0 victories at the start of the season. Is a pacey forward who had an eye for goal at youth level but whose two Premier League goals in 29 matches have come against Reading and Sunderland. His England debut came in a friendly against Sweden last year, making him available to switch to the Jamaican national team. Still very young and raw, let’s hope for the sake of the England national team that Sterling can get a good run out in the first team this season and hone his skills to the match the expectations of the hype Liverpool fans have given him.
James Ward-Prowse (18 – Southampton)
Another graduate of the Southampton youth academy, James Ward-Prowse played some part of Southampton’s Premier League campaign last season and has started all three matches under Mauricio Pochettino to start this season. Technically gifted, Ward-Prowse is a centre midfielder by trade who has had some taste of the right wing this season. He gets involves with the set pieces too; being a good deliverer of the ball. Has been a big part of the England youth setup for a while now and is just looking to catch Roy Hodgson’s eye to compete with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Jack Wilshere and Tom Cleverley in the centre of that England midfield. Could do with learning to tackle.
Jack Wilshere (21 – Arsenal)
There’s not much more I can say that hasn’t already been said about Jack Wilshere. A regular in the Arsenal first team in a midfield which he is now competing with Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Mathieu Flamini, Tomáš Rosický and Abou Diaby (when fit). A box-to-box midfield who still needs to learn how to tackle properly. Has shown signs of frustration in games which leads to cards but ultimately it’s all about fitness and avoiding injuries for Jack Wilshere – something that has plagued the early part of his career. Technically gifted, has the potential to be a playmaker for England. Could also do with scoring a few more goals.
Andre Wisdom (20 – Liverpool)
Injuries in the Liverpool defence helped Andre Wisdom to some first team action at right-back last season. Isn’t going to displace Glen Johnson in that position this season and with central defenders Daniel Agger, Kolo Touré and Martin Škrtel to compete with in central defence, Wisdom is likely to need a couple of injuries or suspensions to teammates for him to see much Premier League action this season. A regualr in the England youth setup, the 6’1” defender has shown good promise at attacking set pieces and defending aerially. Plays a simple passing game.
Wilfried Zaha (20 – Manchester United)
A very effective player in the Championship with Crystal Palace, helping the Eagles to promotion last season. Wilfried Zaha signed for Manchester United in January before being loaned back to the London side and making his debut for the Red Devils this season. A strong forward who loves to run at defenders and has an eye for goal, Wilfried Zaha really is one of the most-promising England youngsters. Will be competing with Antonio Valencia, Ryan Giggs, Ashley Young and Nani for a place in the starting line up on either wing. Already has two caps under Roy Hodgson.