Saturday, 29 September 2012

England’s Young Lions

So, let us be positive; let us forget England’s disappointing showing at the Euros and their ordinary performance against Ukraine in the World Cup qualifier.

Let us assume that England will qualify for the finals in Brazil in 2014, and that the young players showing promise will progress as we hope, and will be injury-free come the big carnival.

Let us also, for the sake of this discussion, take all players who will be over 30 in two years out of the equation, and that includes Joe Cole, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, and Ashley Cole.

What have we got left to frighten Brazil, Spain, and the rest? Well, here goes: how about this for a team of ten twenty-somethings and one teenager?

Joe Hart (who will then be 27) in goal. A given. A back line of Kyle Walker (24), Phil Jones (22), Gary Cahill (28), and Leighton Baines (29).

A midfield comprising Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (21), Tom Cleverley (25), Jack Wilshire (22), and Raheem Sterling (19). And a front two of Danny Welbeck (23) and Wayne Rooney (28).

Doesn’t look too shabby, does it? And, while sticking with youth, there’s decent cover at the back with Ryan Bertrand and Chris Smalling; in midfield, with Theo Walcott, Jake Livermore, and Nick Powell, and up front with Daniel Sturridge and Andy Carroll.

England demonstrated against Ukraine that possession for possession’s sake does not get you very far; we need players from front to back who can keep the ball and use it tellingly when and where it matters.

There are signs that the group mentioned above has the skills to deliver. Perhaps it is asking too much for them to light any fires in Brazil, but they will almost all still be in their twenties come the Euros in 2016 and then we may well have a team to go all the way with.

Fans with their hopes planted firmly in the present should take a look at the early betting on Champions League for updates on next week’s games. 

There is also hope for Barnsley fans in the Championship Previews: Tykes to Continue Ipswich's Miserable Run.