The members of England’s golden generation have either retired or are past their prime, and even though the pool of English players in the Premier League to choose from has diminished in size, they will no doubt be replaced by a newer crop of young players who will form the backbone of England teams for the next decade. Here is a look at 5 of of those young players.
A club that can count Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as their own academy graduates cannot go without a mention in a list of promising young English players. Heading this feature is the captain of the England under-21’s James Ward-Prowse himself. Ward-Prowse broke into the Southampton first team even before the sale of Adam Lallana, but has now made 81 appearances in the Premier League alone for Southampton over the last 3 years, despite the Saints striking gold in the transfer market in the summer of 2014. James Ward-Prowse has been likened to Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso thanks to his passing range, but his ability to play as a creative No 10 or on the wing makes him a manager’s’ delight.
Ruben Loftus Cheek
The rangy 6 ft 4 in midfielder is the most high profile of the group of youngsters that have dominated youth football at Chelsea over the last 5 years. Chelsea have 33 players out on loan at the time of writing, so for Ruben Loftus-Cheek to stay back with the first team is an indicator that Jose Mourinho and the coaching staff have real plans for him. The Chelsea midfielder is not a pure defensive midfielder in the mould of club teammate Nemanja Matic; he has the height and power to stand up to the more physical sides, is capable of passing the ball around with both feet, but also does the job of protecting the defence. Loftus-Cheek’s ability to link attack and defence will make him an ideal fit for a position that both his club and country have struggled to fill with certainty of late.
While Chelsea have gotten a lot of attention for the number of players they have loaned out, Liverpool are not far behind in having loaned 18 players out to various clubs in Europe. Joe Gomez was poised to be among them until strong performances in Liverpool’s pre season forced former manager Brendan Rodgers to change his mind. It is often stated that if you are good enough, you are old enough, and Gomez has proven that by representing England in every age group up to the under-21’s thus far. Clubs like Liverpool are hesitant to give young players a chance, especially in defence, but Gomez’s maturity without the ball and confidence when in possession make him an intriguing prospect for both club and country for the next decade and beyond. Charlton supporters were on to something when they likened Gomez to Rio Ferdinand.
The Football League is tough for a young player, and like Joe Gomez, any player that breaks into the first team at the age of 16 and stays there will surely attract attention from scouts at other clubs. Dele Alli was first watched closely when he was part of the MK Dons team that recorded a historic 4-0 win over Manchester United in a League Cup clash in August 2014. Alli is now a part of Tottenham’s first team, impressing to the point where he has even made a senior England debut. The lanky midfielder possesses typical English qualities like pace and hard running, but similar to Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, he has shown at Tottenham the ability to both create and score goals.
Former Fulham winger Patrick Roberts’ move to Manchester City earlier in the summer was labelled as City’s attempt to pad their squad with home grown and club-trained players, but his track record at Fulham and at various age group levels for England is evidence that there was a method to Manchester City’s madness. Fulham boasted one of the most prolific youth teams in the last 5 years, and Roberts was integral to it. Patrick Roberts has been noticed for his pace and trickery on either wing, but his versatility allows him to play a role behind the striker as a No 10 too. Manchester City do not have a great reputation with regard to bringing young players through, but Roberts being a part of the first team squad indicates that he will have a part to play over the next few seasons. A few impressive appearances in the Premier League is all that is required to make a senior England appearance these days, but in the case of Patrick Roberts, making it to the England first team will be a an honour that is well deserved.