There has been widespread concern voiced in recent months regarding the future of the English game, with the influx of foreign talent into the Premier League argued to pose a potential threat to the development of young English players.
Indeed, newly incumbent FA chairman Greg Dyke recently announced that he has set up and will lead a new commission “for the sake of the national team and youth development in this country”.
However, the highly anticipated clash between Roy Hodgson’s England side and Brnovic’s Montenegro at Wembley on Friday has led discussion in a different direction; the man of the match debut performance of Andros Townsend, who scored and picked up an assist in a scintillating second half.
Following the game, England left-back Leighton Baines has hinted to the value of youth in the senior setup, saying that “the emergence of the younger players has brought that fresh blood and excitement to the squad” - that he obviously sees as vital for the England camp.
The comments from the Everton and England star, although potentially putting more pressure on the need to develop young talent, raise the question as to who could follow Townsend and be the next potential England debutant.
Here are a three potential players that could catch Roy Hodgson’s eye in the near future:
With England manager Roy Hodgson again naming Fraser Forster in the recent senior squad for the two vital World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland, the inclusion of the Celtic stopper was a no brainer.
Yet to make his debut for the national side, Forster’s stock has been on the rise since travelling to Celtic on loan from Newcastle United for the 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons; a permanent deal was agreed in June 2012 and Forster has been instrumental to Celtic’s recent success ever since.
Forster’s credentials are clear for all to see, and with the recently documented stuttering form of England number one Joe Hart, it seems inevitable that Hodgson will turn to Forster for at least one of England’s international friendlies that are sure to follow the competitive fixtures in the coming months, if only to increase competition for places amongst the senior squad.
If one English player epitomises the kind of success that Greg Dyke’s committee will aim to promote, it has to be Southampton left-back Luke Shaw. A product of the same renowned Saints academy as the world’s most expensive player, namely Gareth Bale, the young starlet has already established himself in the Premier League and is currently enjoying a second successful season in the division.
After just two appearances for the England Under-21s team to his name, we may have to wait a little longer to see Shaw grace the senior international side, especially with such strong competition from the likes of Ashley Cole and Leighton Baines for the same position.
However, although a patient approach with Shaw could prove fruitful in the long-term, the emergence of Baines as a highly credible candidate to replace the experienced Ashley Cole permanently could leave the long-term future of the Chelsea defender in doubt.
Whether Cole would be happy to play second fiddle to his competition for the left-back spot is open to debate but could potentially open the door for somebody like Luke Shaw, who has already been compared to the earlier mentioned Gareth Bale.
Another potential young Englishman that could follow in the footsteps of the likes of Andros Townsend is Norwich summer signing Nathan Redmond, who presents an interesting example due to the fact that he is very much in a similar mould to Townsend: a young, pacey winger that is innately talented.
After two seasons playing in the Championship with boyhood club Birmingham City, the young winger joined Norwich City and manager Chris Hughton at the beginning of the 2013/14 season, earning his first six Premier League appearances so far.
The lack of experience at the top level to date, coupled with the fact that the England squad already has the likes of Arsenal pair Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to try and negotiate back into the midfield of the squad both suggest that Redmond’s path to the senior side is unlikely to come in the immediate future.
However, Nathan Redmond has already proved his worth and loyalty to the international fold, representing the England team at every youth level from England’s Under 16 side upwards.
This fact, when aligned with the positive impression Redmond made on manager Roy Hodgson when netting the first goal in the 6-0 rout of the Scotland Under 21 side earlier this year, both suggest that should injury problems continue to blight the England wide midfielders, Redmond could be in-line for a call-up within the next 12-18 months.
As the nation prepares to hold its breath for 90 crucial minutes against Poland on Tuesday, the likes of Forster, Shaw and Redmond will no doubt be dreaming of their own international debuts, of venturing out onto the hallowed turf of Wembley for the first time.
In the coming months, the performances of each player mentioned will undoubtedly come under great scrutiny, with their performances at club level posing questions to the England manager as to who’s next for Hodgson’s England.
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