MATT BELL says it’s vi­tal Eng­land’s new hopes are handed first-team op­por­tu­ni­ties at their clubs…

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Young guns need chances

BACK in 2007, the Daily Mail pre­dicted the Eng­land team of 2014 which would take the world by storm. This team lined up like so: Ben Amos (goal­keeper), Sam Hutchin­son (right-back), Micah Richards (cen­tre-back), Gavin Hoyte (cen­tre­back), Rob­bie Threlfall (left-back), Dean Par­rett (right mid­field), Michael John­son (cen­tre mid­field), James Henry (left mid­field), Theo Wal­cott (right of front three), Jose Bax­ter (cen­tral striker) and Scott Sin­clair (left of front three).

It’s safe to say their pre­dic­tion was pure rub­bish, as in 2014 only one of those play­ers, Ar­se­nal’s Wal­cott, was any­where near the Eng­land squad, with Richards and Sin­clair hav­ing a sniff in the past.

Fast for­ward to 2017, and the Eng­land men’s se­nior team still brings groans to all those that waste 90 min­utes watch­ing them.

Yet again they seem to be cruis­ing to World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion, but all fans feel that this is as good as it gets, and they will strug­gle to make the quar­ter-fi­nals in Rus­sia 2018.

How­ever, look­ing fur­ther down the line at the age group teams, Eng­land have rea­son to be cheerful.

It’s been a very pro­duc­tive sum­mer for the Three Lions, with the U21s get­ting to the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship semi-fi­nals (los­ing on penal­ties to Ger­many – some things never change!), the U20s win­ning the World Cup in South Korea, the U19s win­ning the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships and the U17s los­ing the fi­nal to Spain in the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship (again on penal­ties!).

For the brains be­hind the St Ge­orge’s Park project, they will un­doubt­edly be lick­ing their lips with joy. Yet how do we take these pos­i­tive re­sults? Do we get ex­cited for the fu­ture, or do we merely take it with a pinch of salt? There are a lot of promis­ing play­ers in those teams. Ryan Sesseg­non of Ful­ham, Lewis Baker of Chelsea, Phil Fo­den of Manch­ester City (who Pep Guardi­ola raved about after a pre-sea­son match ver­sus Manch­ester United), Dominic Solanke (Liver­pool), Sheyi Ojo (Liver­pool, now on loan at Ful­ham) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Ever­ton) are just some of those that come to mind. Sadly, the har­row­ing truth is that maybe two or three of these young­sters will ac­tu­ally make the Eng­land squad. Why is this? Well, for one thing it is ridicu­lously hard for a young­ster to get game time for their clubs to grow. Chelsea have just loaned out their 25th young­ster (as of Au­gust 4), yet only have 17 first team squad mem­bers. They have also just sold for­mer Eng­land Un­der-21 reg­u­lar Nathaniel Chalobah to Wat­ford. Many Chelsea fans had watched the 22year-old de­velop and felt he was just about knock­ing on An­to­nio Conte’s door for a start­ing berth. How­ever, sign­ings nowa­days are for an in­stant im­pact. Only on rare oc­ca­sions do clubs buy play­ers for their long-term po­ten­tial, and those that do im­me­di­ately ship those young­sters out on loan. In­stead, these play­ers end up in the Champi- on­ship, the lower leagues or, in Chelsea’s case, many dif­fer­ent Euro­pean coun­tries, and strug­gle to get the suf­fi­cient growth they need. The Eng­land se­nior team it­self will be hard to break into. A lot of the cur­rent team are all yet to reach their peak, and are cur­rently un­der the age of 25. Jack But­land (goal­keeper) is 24, Luke Shaw (left-back) is 22, Kyle Walker (right-back) is 27, John Stones (cen­tre-back) is 23, Mar­cus Rash­ford (striker) is 19, Harry Kane (striker) is 24 and Dele Alli (mid­fielder) is 21. The squad is still young and those play­ers could eas­ily be at the top for the next five to ten years. It has al­ready had an ef­fect on the older play­ers, with Wayne Rooney, James Mil­ner, Theo Wal­cott and, per­haps, Joe Hart find­ing it harder to get them­selves into the team. The dan­ger is that if the new crop of play­ers don’t get their chances at their clubs, they could dis­ap­pear off the face of the earth. Let’s be hon­est, you all prob­a­bly for­got that Michael John­son was meant to be one of the next best things, and then there is David Bent­ley who was meant to be the next David Beck­ham….

Daily Mail 2007 pre­dic­tion

Sesseg­non Theo Wal­cott Hutchin­son Henry Wal­cott Solanke Calvert-Lewin Hoyte Amos Bax­ter Richards John­son Threlfall Par­rett Sin­clair

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