The Guardian's '20 future England stars to watch' from 2008

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There isn’t much optimism surrounding England’s friendly against Spain this evening.

Spain might not be the force they were six years ago, but they’re still a class above England and, unlike Scotland, will punish the Three Lions when they’re presented with good opportunities to score.

The English national team’s problems have been well documented, with the increased numbers of foreign players in the Premier League blocking the path for many English players to earn valuable minutes.

Chelsea are a prime example. Lewis Baker and Patrick Bamford have both been sent out on loan by the Blues, while highly-rated talents Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek haven’t been given opportunities in the first team - indeed, earlier this season Chalobah made his debut six years after first making the bench.

In 2008, The Guardian picked 20 English teenagers who they expected to develop into stars. Some, including Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere, have shined on occasions, but others you’ve never heard of since.

Jose Baxter

The former Everton starlet received a 12-month ban in August after testing positive for cocaine while at Sheffield United last season.

It was Baxter’s second failed drugs test - in 2015 he tested positive for ecstasy.

Unsurprisingly, Sheffield United released him in May of this year.

Mark Beevers

Beevers, then a Sheffield Wednesday player, reportedly attracted interested from several Premier League clubs in 2008. But the centre-back failed to fulfil his potential and is currently playing for Bolton Wanderers.

John Bostock

The Guardian described Bostock as “tall, elegant and visionary,” when he was a 16-year-old at Tottenham Hotspur.

That “visionary” is now playing for RC Lens in Ligue 2.

Nathan Delfouneso

Delfouneso made his Aston Villa debut in 2008 as a 17-year-old, but his career has been on a downward path ever since.

The striker was loaned out to Burnley, Leicester City, Blackpool and Coventry City, before eventually signing permanently with Blackpool in 2014.

He currently plays for Swindon Town.

Fabian Delph

Finally, somewhat who has enjoyed a degree of success.

Delph left Leeds United in 2009 for Aston Villa and was signed by Manchester City in 2015, where he currently warms the bench.

Danny Drinkwater

Being sold by Manchester United to Leicester City doesn’t seem like a success, but Drinkwater went on win the Premier League title with the Foxes, so who’s complaining?

Jordan Henderson

The former Sunderland man will captain England at Wembley Stadium tonight. He splits opinion like no other, but captaining Liverpool and his national team are two impressive feats.

Gavin Hoyte

The ex-Arsenal defender still plays in north London but for Barnet, not the Gunners.

Henri Lansbury

Arsene Wenger loaned Lansbury out to Scunthorpe United, Watford, Norwich City and West Ham, before eventually decided there was no place for him in the Arsenal first team.

The 26-year-old is now a regular for Nottingham Forest.

Josh McEachran

Another player who’s fall has been pretty sad to watch.

Chelsea kept onto McEachran despite interest from Manchester United, and he made nine Premier League appearances in 2010-11.

However, loan spells swiftly followed and the midfielder was sold to Brentford last year.

Jacob Mellis

Chelsea paid £1 million for Mellis, then 16, in 2007.

But he was sacked by the club in 2012 after setting off a smoke grenade at the club’s Cobham Training Centre.

Subsequent spells at Barnsley, Blackpool and currently Bury prove that Chelsea weren’t wrong to release the midfielder.

Victor Moses

Moses’ resurgence has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. The Nigerian looked destined to follow McEachran’s path out of Stamford Bridge following loan spells at Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham.

However, Antonio Conte has resurrected the 25-year-old’s career and he’s flourishing as a wing-back in the Italian’s 3-4-3 system.

It's a shame for the FA that he snubbed England, where he played at U21 level, for Nigeria.

Nile Ranger

The less said about Ranger, the better.

The Guardian tipped the former Newcastle striker for “Shearer-esque scoring feats”, but several run-ins with the law have blighted Ranger’s career.

In April 2014, Ranger was caught on CCTV smashing down the door to his flat and appearing to hit a female.

He currently plays for Southend United. Last Saturday he scored his first league goal in 735 days.

Jack Rodwell

Rodwell’s performances for Everton earned him a move to Manchester City in 2012. But after spending a couple of seasons on the bench at the Etihad Stadium, the midfielder joined Sunderland.

Freddie Sears

Sears scored within six minutes of his West Ham debut in 2008. But that was about as good as it would get.

He was sold to Colchester United in 2012 and Ipswich Town signed him last year.

Jonjo Shelvey

Liverpool snapped the former Charlton Athletic midfielder up in 2010 and he had some impressive moments - his technique in the goal he scored against Chelsea in 2012 was superb.

But he was never quite good enough for the Reds and is now playing in the Championship with Newcastle United.

Danny Welbeck

Injuries have affected Welbeck’s Arsenal career and he’ll likely occupy the bench when he returns from his latest setback.

Aidan White

White was a Leeds United player when The Guardian wrote their list and he hasn’t taken his game to another level.

The left-back currently plays for Barnsley.

Jack Wilshere

Where do we start?

Wilshere took on Andres Iniesta and Xavi as a 19-year-old and came out on top.

So what’s he currently doing out on loan at Bournemouth? Injuries are to blame for the Arsenal man’s failed development but he hasn’t helped himself when fit, refusing to change his play style to avoid getting hurt.

At 24, there’s still time for Wilshere to fulfil his promise but he has some catching up to do.

Michael Woods

Woods replaced Frank Lampard in a game for Chelsea in 2007, but it quickly became clear that he would never follow in the heroic midfielder’s footsteps.

He now plays for Hartlepool in League Two.

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Danny Welbeck
Jack Wilshere
England Football
Premier League
Manchester United
Jordan Henderson
Fabian Delph

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