England's bright prospects suggest exciting future

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"Not this summer but two years time" - a comment that could be heard in the pub this weekend. "We have some world class talent coming through," was another. "Too early for them this summer," - the discussion was about England's chances in France.

As the Premier League season ends, thoughts will turn to the national team's chances in France and the common census is that this tournament is one too soon for the young stars but success is just around the corner. Is this based on solid fact or blind optimism? What are the chances our young stars will give us a bright future or will they flatter to deceive?

We've heard the same arguments before. Manchester United's golden generation from 20 years ago were being talked about as the future of the England game and the team to follow in the footsteps of Sir Alf's 1966 heroes. Paul Scholes, David Beckham and the Nevilles failed to deliver. As did the young superstars that followed. Michael Owen, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Frank Lampard all hung up their international boots without making any serious impact on a major tournament and Wayne Rooney - perhaps the best of them all - has not made a serious impression at a big championship since 2004.


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So what about the current young stars? What chance do they have? And who will be the players to lead us to the next success?

The goalkeeping situation for the next few years looks settled. Joe Hart is the number one and aged 29 he could have that position for another six to eight years. The backup is now there to keep him on his toes. Fraser Forster is a similar age and a solid stopper and Jack Butland, aged 23, is the pretender to the throne. Already a top flight regular, he may not even peak for another five years so this position looks good.

Full-back positions also seem to be covered for the foreseeable future. Kyle Walker and Nathaniel Clyne are both 25 and they can battle for the right back spot for the next four tournaments.

Left back is even better served. Danny Rose has leapt to the front of the queue ahead of Ryan Bertrand and Kieran Gibbs with 20-year-old Luke Shaw sure to challenge for years to come once he returns to fitness. Also, we can rely on the experience of Leighton Baines for a few more years yet and that is before we have even mentioned Aaron Cresswell, who Hodgson has not taken a look at yet despite being arguably the best in his position this year.

The same can't be said for centre-back. Phil Jones has flattered to deceive at centre-half and Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka are now over 30. So who is coming through to fill this void? John Stones is the only name that springs to mind as a regular in defence for his club and even his performances have come under scrutiny this year in a struggling Everton defence. Next season is a huge year for him. Other like Calum Chambers need to nail down regular first team football before they can be considered for a regular spot.

One option at centre-half could be to drop Eric Dier back into the position he started at. Dier has excelled as a holding midfielder this year and it is in this position he will no doubt feature this summer for England, but could his future lie further back for the national team or will he end up as another who suffers as a jack of all trades?

Centre midfield also seems to have a number of options but all have their own issues. Jack Wilshire is undoubtedly a world-class talent, but injuries could ruin this promising career and he needs a run of games for Arsenal in a squad packed with midfielders.

Dele Alli also should have a special future, but has also shown some indiscipline recently and needs to learn to control his emotions better on the field. His spot will be challenged by Ross Barkley who has shown some flashes of brilliance but seems to struggle for consistency.

Two years ago, Raheem Sterling was the attacker England could build their team around but the move to Manchester City has not worked out as planned yet. From being the great hope of English football he has drifted to Etihad bench warmer - a path followed by others in the past like Jack Rodwell and Adam Johnson.

With Pep Guardiola arriving at the club, next season is massive for the former Liverpool star. Is he the type of player Pep will want to build his side around or will he be shipped out to raise funds.

Up front is all about Harry Kane, and the Spurs striker has everything in his game to lead the line for the next decade. Who will be alongside him is less certain. Anyone who has watched Manchester United this year will feel that Marcus Rashford could be that man. However, with potentially a new manager at Old Trafford next season how much game time will he get.

Of course, all of this is speculation. So much can happen over the next few years. Good young players do not always go on to make the grade. Injuries have ruined many a promising career (Michael Owen) and others never quite live up to the tag.

So instead of looking to the future, maybe we should just put everything into getting behind the squad this summer. After all, if 5000-1 Leicester can win the league why can't 9-1 England triumph in Paris?

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Wayne Rooney
England Football
Premier League
Luke Shaw
Gary Cahill
Raheem Sterling

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