With the English summer almost past us and the imminent birthday of yours truly, it can only mean one thing: The new football season is nigh.
In amongst the riveting pre-season tours and the hordes of cash slapped about by the Premier League big boys, we take a look at what emerging English talent might be snapping at the heels of the more proven players heading into France Euro 2016.
The Three Lions have made European qualification look easier than Mourinho parking a bus; but with Hodgson’s men playing so well, will the new season allow a young-gun to break in squad, and if so, which English talent will be on the hype as we head across the channel next summer? Well, we’ve made a list.
Rolando Aarons – 19 – Newcastle United – Aarons still needs some game time if we are to make a firm assessment, but the Kingston born winger is certainly one that excites. Newcastle fans are desperate to see more of the young man that has the potential to be a ray of sunshine on far too often overcast Tyne-Side. McClaren has expressed his interest in tying down the technically gifted left winger to a new contract, although negotiations have hit a snag, only time will tell whether this interest will translate into minutes on the pitch. With so many pacey wingers ahead of him, an England call-up perhaps looks like a stride too far.
Patrick Bamford – 21 – Crystal Palace – Already backed by Pardew, a man whose mouth frequently moves faster than his brain, to make the England set-up. Bamford will surely have a lot of hardening up to do in the Premier League this season. Having accelerated Middlesbrough to the play-off final last campaign, the Chelsea loanee certainly has the ability to impress. Whether he will make the transition to the top flight in the nonchalant fashion of Austin or Ings may prove fruitless, but he looks sure to get a good opportunity at Pardew’s Palace.
Jordan Ibe – 19 – Liverpool – Already hotly tipped to become to be the next Raheem Sterling, Liverpool fans will be hoping he gets there all but in temperament. Having made the grade at U18, U19 and U20 for England, Ibe’s focus for this season is nailing a first team place; now that the Sterling saga has set sail down the River Mersey. Hot on the pursuit of Jordan though are Nigeria, whose officials were spotted in Melwood last Wednesday, reportedly attempting to lure the Liverpool man into their national set-up. Born in London Ibe qualifies through his Nigerian father, which could prove an incentive for Roy to bring him into the first-team set-up sooner rather than later.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 19 – Chelsea – Given a chance by Mourinho at the end of last season, Loftus-Cheek will be hoping the 2015/16 season promises bigger things. Realistically making the England squad for Euro 2016 is going to be a big ask for the big man, but given the chance he will certainly stake his claim. Whether or not he will get opportunity enough remains to be seen, however, Mourinho’s lack of investment in that area could be a sign of things to come for the U20 international.
James Ward-Prowse – 20 – Southampton – Ward-Prowse was hoping his chances of a ticket to Euro 2016 would dramatically increase after being involved in the U21 European Championships this summer. However, England’s dismal display did little to help his fortunes and now his only chances lie in being a key player for the Saints this season. The good news for James is he takes one of the best corners in the game and will probably get the most first-team football of all the players on the list. A hard worker who is already on Hodgson’s radar, his fate is in his own hands.
Jack Grealish – 19 – Aston Villa – Of course, there is plenty to say about this absolute lad. But hey, he deserved a blow-out for that performance in the F.A Cup Semi-Final alone. Thriving under Tim Sherwood’s top-class man management towards the end of last season, the departure of Delph will see a lot of responsibility placed on this shin pad-less, low-sock wearing prodigy. This season is a chance for him to step up to the plate, though this could be difficult in a questionable Villa side, who has replaced their two best players with relatively unknown entities to the Premier League. Grealish’s young pedigree will be tested this season, but we hope he’s up for the challenge.
Reece Oxford – 16 – West Ham – Announcing your presence at just 16 years of age away at Arsenal is not for the faint-hearted, but young Reece Oxford will have given Mesut Ozil a day he would like to forget. In a quite astonishing debut for the young defender his manager, Slaven Bilic, has suggested even Lionel Messi would struggle to faze Oxford. Certainly, with more performances like that Hodgson will have to take note, but may err on the side of caution given not too distant examples of players being ushered into the senior team too early. It’s a keep your feet on the ground time for the young man who could be major presence for years to come.
Dele Alli – 19 – Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs fans were frothing at the bit when they witnessed their young talent nutmeg two players in one match. Yes! Two players, in one game! And admittedly, that’s the only reason he has made this list. But given Pochettino’s reputation in nurturing young talent, Alli will be sure to get a chance at making a name for himself this campaign and earned himself a starting spot against United this weekend. A box-to-box powerhouse with a top-class attitude, he is the type of player that might just catch Roy’s attention.
It will certainly be fascinating to see if at least one of these players can make it on the short flight to France next summer, as even securing first-team football will be a challenge in a league overwhelmed with foreign talent.
The likes of Danny Ings, James Wilson, Calum Chambers and Jordan Stones will also be vying for position, with Roy’s selection pot looking healthier than some might have thought. Certainly there are players that pick themselves, but wouldn’t it be nice to head to the Championships believing a new talent could give us a shot at glory. We still believe.
Which young English talent do you think will shine most this season?