10 future England stars
We are just short of 18 months away from the next major international tournament which means lots of European countries are in the process of transition.
England are no different, with Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard being just two of the players who have been regular starters for the Three Lions for the past couple of decades but have now retired from international football.
That leaves many spots in the squad open for young emerging stars to grasp and become the future of the national team.
Here are 10 players who could follow Lampard and Gerrard and be regulars for England for many years to come. Some of these youngsters have already just broken into the squad, while others have yet to pick up their first cap for their country.
Charlie Austin (QPR)
At the age of 25, Charlie Austin is still young enough to have a big future for England. The QPR striker is a late developer in football.
This season has been his first in the Premier League but the former non-league player has taken it with two hands as he has scored 13 goals so far in 19 appearances. This has been rewarding first goalscorer punters who have backed him in various games with Betfair.
When you look at the QPR striker’s record, he has scored goals at every level he has played at. He made his Football League debut for Swindon, who were the club who took a chance on him by signing him from non-league football. A move to Burnley followed where Austin had three successful seasons in the Championship for the club which earned him the move to Loftus Road.
It is only a matter of time until Austin gets his chance in Roy Hodgson’s squad and if he transfers his goalscoring record for his club to the international scene, it would be hard for the England boss to leave him out again.
Ross Barkley (Everton)
There are many comparisons that can be made between Ross Barkley and Wayne Rooney. Both stated their careers with Everton and the two players also broke into the England squad at a similar age.
Barkley has been talked about as being the brightest young player in English football for a while now and it is clear that he does have the potential to go on to be as big of a star as Rooney is in domestic and international football.
England fans have yet to see the best of Barkley in a Three Lions shirt but we have to remember he is just 21-years-old so his prime years are ahead of him. The World Cup last year probably came too soon for him but the experience will have done him now harm. Euro 2016 and the next World Cup in 2018 will be his time to shine at the biggest stage, as long as he stays injury free.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have all been linked with the Everton youngster in recent years so a move to one of the top four clubs in the Premier League also looks likely in the future, which can only help his development.
But the one dilemma Hodgson does need to work out in order to get the best from Barkley is what is the best position to play him in. So far he has been asked to play in a number of roles, which is great for the team that he has this versatility. However, in order to see some consistent performances for England, he will need a regular role somewhere on the pitch.
Zach Clough (Bolton)
Probably the most surprising name of this list as those who don’t follow Championship football may not have heard of the name Zach Clough. However, Bolton fans will tell you this 19-year-old is destined to go all the way to the top in the game.
The pacey midfield looked at home in a recent FA Cup game against Liverpool where he caused the Premier League club all kinds of problems before Bolton were eliminated from the competition.
Scouts from a number of top-flight clubs have been flocking to the Macron Stadium to catch more of the youngster so look out for him moving at the end of the current campaign once the summer transfer window opens.
England don’t have too many players who can match their European counterparts for flair and trickery but Clough could help them bridge that gap in the future by causing problems to defences all around the world. Euro 2016 may come too soon for him but it would be no surprise if he was around for the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
Clough is now a regular in the Bolton line-up under manager Neil Lennon so he should continue learning about first-team football.
Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton)
Nathaniel Clyne made his full debut for England back in November during their 3-1 victory over Slovenia. That was a reward for a solid season so far with Southampton, who are flying at the right end of the table and pushing for a Champions League spot at the end of the season.
Clyne has the opportunity to make the right-back slot in the England side his own as this is one of the spots which really has not been sealed by any one individual since Gary Neville retired from international football.
The 23-year-old is young enough to play in a number of major tournaments if England manager Hodgson chooses to put his faith in the Southampton defender.
Craig Dawson (West Brom)
West Brom defender Craig Dawson has been at the club since 2010 after signing from his hometown club of Rochdale. The Baggies have had a number of managers in that time but current boss Tony Pulis has shown his faith in the Englishman by using him to partner the experienced Joleon Lescott in the centre of his defence.
England are not blessed with too many young, talented centre-halves, so as long Dawson maintains his position in the West Brom starting line-up and continues to improve, he could be seen as a big part of Hodgson’s future plans.
Dawson has played on 15 occasions for the Under 21 national team, while he also featured for the Great Britain team which played in the Olympics in 2012.
Eric Dier (Tottenham)
Tottenham defender Eric Dier has had the ideal preparation for international football as he spent the majority of his youth outside of England. Dier was with Portuguese club Sporting for 11 years in which he started with their youth team and eventually was promoted up to their senior side in 2012.
Since switching to White Hart Lane, the full-back has become a favourite among Spurs fans following some really solid performances in the North London club’s back four. The Cheltenham-born player has also scored some crucial goals this season for his side in which he has comfortably stepped up to the demands of playing Premier League football.
Dier played nine times for England Under 21s but he has yet to feature for the senior side. That is likely to change in the near future. One of the big strengths Dier has is that he is very versatile so he can play in a number of positions. This is something which can be prove to be helpful to Hodgson, especially in major tournaments.
Jordan Ibe (Liverpool)
Liverpool youngster Jordan Ibe has yet to establish himself as a regular in the Liverpool first team, although Brendan Rodgers showed his faith in the Englishman by giving him a starting slot in the Merseyside derby at the weekend against Everton. He did not disappoint.
Ibe signed for Liverpool in 2012 from Wycombe but he has had to develop away from Anfield in the last few years with loan spells at Birmingham and Derby.
England don’t have too many wingers with raw pace but Ibe could fill that gap in the future as long as he stays on track with Liverpool. He proved last season that he can also find the back of the net as he scored five goals in his 20 appearances for the Rams in the Championship.
At the age of just 19, it might be a few more years before Ibe becomes in contention for the senior team but we should see him in the next Under 21 squad and it will do him no harm to play for the Three Lions at that level where he should learn from the experience on the international set-up.
Danny Ings (Burnley)
There was a lot of speculation during the January Transfer Window that Danny Ings would leave Burnley for a bigger club in the Premier League or to move to Spain to join up with David Moyes at Real Sociedad. Those rumours failed to materialise, though, as he remained at Turf Moor where he will try to help the Clarets remain in the top flight of English football.
The reason why Ings was a target for lots of clubs last month is because he has made a fine start to his opening campaign in the Premier League where his tally is up to eight goals. The Burnley forward scored 26 goals last season and he has continued that form into the 2014/15 term.
Ings is still without a cap for the national team but he has scored four goals in seven appearances for the Under 21 team so there is every chance he could be promoted to the national squad this year.
Just like Austin, Ings’ record suggests he is a player who will score lots of goals at every level he plays in the game as he is a good natural finisher who takes his chances when they are presented to him.
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
An early candidate for the Tottenham player of the season could be Harry Kane. The Spurs forward has scored 22 goals in all competitions so far in the current campaign to move him up there near the top of the betting for top goalscorer in the league.
Kane has thrived under Mauricio Pochettino since he joined the club and has been regular first-team football.
If Hodgson considers the number of goals the 21-year-old has scored this season, he will surely find it difficult to leave him out of his next squad for the international team. It would be no surprise to see Kane as a regular for the Three Lions by the time Euro 2016 comes around next year in France.
The year of 2015 may turn out to be a huge one for Kane as if Hodgson does have the Spurs man in his plans for the next major tournament, he will be keen to give him some experience over the next 12 months in the competitive qualifiers.
Domestically, who knows where Kane’s future will end up. He has been linked with some of the biggest clubs in the world, but for now, he can do no wrong if he stays at White Hart Lane as the club seem to be doing a good job looking after their player.
Michael Keane (Burnley)
Lots of players have left Manchester United at a relatively young age and gone on to have a successful career and it looks like Michael Keane may well be the latest player to do that.
It is never easy leaving one of the biggest clubs in Europe but Keane knew his future was away from Old Trafford if he wanted regular first-team football.
Since joining Burnley on loan, a deal which has now been made permanent, he has made 10 appearances in the Premier League. The 22-year-old has impressed in the heart of the Lancashire club’s defence which suggests he could be one of the brightest young centre halves in England.
Unfortunately for Keane, there is a lot of competition in his position for the national team but it should mean he can concentrate on helping Burnley remain in the top flight this season. If his performances remain consistently good, Hodgson will no doubt come knocking for his services.