England's young team could be unconventional path to success

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England's two friendlies against Germany and Holland were something of a mixed bag, but there were a few unequivocal successes. 

Not long ago, the majority of football fans wouldn't have thought that Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy would be the best attacking options a couple of months before Euro 2016 kicks off. 

So much has changed since the 'Golden Generation' of the 2000s. They have had their time (and perhaps wasted it). Since then football as a whole has significantly changed and England's national team may need to cast their net wide when looking for fresh talent.


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Young foreign players continue to fill up the best academies across the country and while it may not reduce the quality of players as many believe, the best English players might be forced to start down the leagues before working their way up.

Vardy epitomises this rise from the bottom but several others from the current squad have spent a large amount of their career outside the Premier League and have learned virtues that the relatively easy ride in the top division would never teach you. 

Kane struggled at times in Tottenham's academy and had a number of unsuccessful loans in the League One and Championship. As for Alli, he began his career with MK Dons, while Adam Lallana played a key role in Southampton's rise from League One to the Premier League.

In previous tournaments the squad would be made up of world superstars like David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and numerous others who would barely have ever stepped foot on a pitch with players from outside the Premier League.

Blend of Youth and Experience

Of course there is always going to be a place for these huge names that are seemingly groomed for the national side from birth, but as the balance of power becomes more complex in the domestic game, it would be naive to rely on the old methods of talent identification.

While playing in the lower leagues won't prepare you for international football, it will give you an appreciation of some of the more unsavoury aspects of the sport. 

It exposes these players to traditional battlers who are more than happy to leave a late hit on you and a way of playing that so many other top class stars won't have ever experienced.

So for players like Vardy and Kane who have been a part of teams in League One and below, they have the qualities needed to succeed there as well as the attributes required to compete internationally. 

Regardless of if you think that is valuable or not when playing against Germany, Italy or Spain, you can't deny that this sort of experience has made them into well-rounded players who have had to graft hard to get to where they are.

Someone like Vardy, who is nearly 30 and is only playing his second season in the Premier League, will play every single game as though it would be his last in what is likely to be a pretty limited England career. 

As incredible an achievement it is for anyone to get over 100 caps and play in a number of tournaments, the likes of Wayne Rooney, Lampard and Gerrard always had another competition only a couple of years away.

This year's European Championships will likely be Vardy's only major outing and he will no doubt play as though this party will be his last. 

England constantly disappoint at big events and are accused of not caring about the inevitable early departure but Vardy will always play with that same relentless attitude we see every weekend with Leicester City.

Common complaints about the ongoing takeover of English youth systems by foreign talent is often cited as the biggest threat to the national team but studies looking into the issue actually argue that it helps English players as they learn from the ways of playing that are unique to every country. 

For the English kids left to learn from this imported talent it's all well and good but there's only so much room in these academies, forcing some young players who perhaps develop later to smaller clubs or maybe even to non-league football. 

More often than not we blame the foreign influx for every problem in sport and even in wider society, but they aren't stopping home-grown players from developing at all. These potentially world-class players are still there, we just need to look in the right place.

Can England go all the way this summer? Have YOUR say in the comment section!

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Steven Gerrard
England Football
Premier League
David Beckham
Frank Lampard

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