England's new generation of players could provide a few surprises at Euro 2016

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No golden generation has disappointed more on the international stage than the England national team's high-profile squad between 2004 and 2010. 

However, the current crop of players have a rather refreshing feel to them, providing a different outlook than the star-studded squad that graced the Three Lions over the past decade.

Consisting mainly of younger players who have broken through in the last couple of years, expectations are not as high as a decade ago, but at the same time, these young players have a certain spark to them and have the ability to spring a few surprises at the upcoming Euro 2016 in France.


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With very few experienced players such as Gary Cahill, James Milner, Joe Hart and Wayne Rooney, the crux of the team could very well comprise mostly younger players or players who haven't featured much on the international stage, but have been promising for their clubs.

Rooney is the only player remaining from England's golden generation and even he is not necessarily guaranteed a spot in the first team due to the emergence of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, the two top scorers in the Premier League.

Just like Kane and Vardy, several other players have emerged for the national team, and despite not being considered as world-beaters, these players have shown promise and great chemistry during the qualifiers as well as recent friendlies, leading to a positive vibe around the team.

Familiar Formations

Roy Hodgson has preferred two formations the most during the qualifying campaign; the 4-4-2 diamond and the 4-2-3-1. But should he stick with these formations for the Euros?

The answer is yes, especially considering the fact that England have won all of their 10 qualifiers, albeit not facing the best of teams in the group, it takes some effort to maintain a 100% record.

The diamond formation creates a narrow playing field with little room for wide players, but with an ample supply of midfielders, the Three Lions should have no trouble filling each position.

The 4-2-3-1 requires two defensive midfielders but deploys two wide players with one attacking midfielder or play-maker.

There is a plethora of relatively inexperienced players to choose from in midfield who have made their mark for their clubs.

Eric Dier and Danny Drinkwater are the best options to occupy the defensive midfield role, whereas Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson are the likely candidates to command the central midfield roles as box-to-box midfielders. 

Despite both suffering injury ravaged seasons, the quality brought into the team by Wilshere and Henderson is unquestionable and the pair will be expected to be the lynch pins in midfield. 

Two of England's brightest prospects, Dele Alli, and Ross Barkley could be vying for the attacking midfield position. Alli could get the nod ahead of the Everton midfielder after his highly promising campaign, where the 20-year-old won the PFA Young Player of the Year award. Also, let's not forget Adam Lallana, who has been terrific for Liverpool since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp.

If the 4-2-3-1 formation is deployed, due to injuries to Arsenal duo Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling seems to be the only natural choice to play on the wings. 

Having fallen out of the Arsenal first team, Theo Walcott was not even named in Hodgson's provisional squad for the Euros, which leaves the likes of Daniel Sturridge and 18-year-old Marcus Rashford as the only candidates to challenge for the other wide positions due to their great pace. 

In attack, Kane and Vardy seem to be the obvious choices with Sturridge an extremely viable option, but the Liverpool ace might be forced to start on the bench in the Euros. 

Kane and Vardy lead the scoring charts during the season and they are almost sure to be the preferred options up-front, even leaving Rooney behind.

Gary Cahill is an automatic pick in central defense, with Chris Smalling or John Stones the likely options to partner the Chelsea defender. 

Liverpool's Nathaniel Clyne is expected to slot in at right-back, whereas Danny Rose looks like the likely candidate to play at left-back. Other options for the full-back positions include Kyle Walker and Ryan Bertrand, both of whom are perfectly capable of fulfilling those roles. 

Joe Hart in goal is an obvious choice with Fraser Forster a useful replacement.

Great chemistry

Several of the players in the existing squad have played together for different Premier League sides.

Drinkwater and Vardy have combined well for Leicester City on a regular basis leading the Foxes to their first Premier League title after a defiant season.

Spurs have a strong contingency of players in the form of Kane, Walker, Rose, Alli and Dier, all of whom started in the recent friendly win against Turkey. They were regular fixtures for the north London side during the season and could provide even greater coherency to the national team if played together more.

Liverpool also have a handful of players available for selection. Players such as Lallana, Henderson, Sturridge, Clyne and Milner are going to be a crucial part of the team and will bring even greater chemistry to this England side.

Sterling, Fabian Delph and Hart from Manchester City will add to the chemistry of the team as well.

Contrary to previous seasons, very few players from Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal are set to feature, with Liverpool, City, Leicester and Spurs the main hubs for players.

Since most of the players are concentrated within a few teams, the coherency between players is likely to high.

Lack of pressure and fear

In contrast to the English team that existed 10 years ago, the current team has far less pressure on them to perform well during the Euros.

The so-called "golden generation" of the past decade consisted of world class players such as; Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Gary Neville, David Beckham, Ashley Cole, Joe Cole, Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney.

The above players were highly experienced and won several trophies with their respective clubs. It was also a time when English clubs dominated the European scene, as evident by the fact that all Champions League finals between 2005 and 2009 featured at least one English team.

In 2008, Chelsea and Manchester United faced off in the final and on two separate occasions during the same period, three out of the four semi-finalists were from England, which is an astonishing fact. 

Such was the dominance of English teams as well as English players back then. Due to this kind of success at club level, the same was expected of the national team on the international stage.

However, England continually under-performed, with the quarter-finals being their best finish in a major tournament during that period.

This current crop of players does not have the same star-studded feel to it and is therefore, under no pressure to do well in the approaching Euros.

Consisting of relatively younger players, the current English team will likely play in a fearless free-flowing manner which could give them an impression that they could beat any team.

In a recent friendly in March, England came from two goals down against world champions Germany in Berlin to win 3-2 after an inspired performance. They also beat France 2-0 a few months ago in a friendly.

As mentioned earlier, England won a hard fought friendly against a very technical and possession oriented Turkey side at the Etihad Stadium, a game in which both Kane and Vardy managed to score adding to the goals they registered in Berlin. 

Despite these games being friendlies, it shows that the current team is not fazed by the challenge of facing big teams, a factor which could prove vital in England's Euro run.

How far can England go in Euro 2016? Leave us YOUR predictions in the comment section below!

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Wayne Rooney
Steven Gerrard
England Football
Premier League
David Beckham
Frank Lampard

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