As Roy Hodgson ponders over his squad selection for the upcoming friendly against Sweden next Wednesday, we take a look at the next generation of English talent by picking our top eleven of homegrown Premier League players, all under the age of 23.
Goalkeeper: Ben Amos (22, Manchester United)
He may be United’s third choice keeper, but the young shotstopper has already shown signs that he could become one of the best English goalkeepers in the future. Having displaced Tomasz Kuszczak in the United pecking order last season, the Under-21 international made his Premier League debut in a 2-0 home win against Stoke. The 22-year-old was also United’s first choice keeper for all three League Cup games last campaign.
Right Back: Kyle Walker (22, Tottenham Hotspur)
Probably the most exciting right back in the country right now, Walker is equally adept at going forward as he is defending. Having already established himself as a regular in the Spurs setup over the past couple of seasons you feel that it is only a matter of time until he permanently displaces Glen Johnson as England’s number one right back.
Left Back: Ryan Bertrand (23, Chelsea)
Seen as a natural successor to Ashley Cole, Bertrand was famously handed his Champions League debut in the final against Bayern Munich last May. Whilst the 23-year-old has been mainly used as cover for Cole, he has often been deployed by Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo on the left wing as a second half substitute. However with Cole’s future at Stamford Bridge in the balance there may very well be an opportunity arising for Bertrand to establish himself as a first team regular for Chelsea.
Centre Back: Phil Jones (20, Manchester United)
One of the most versatile defensive players in the game, Jones can play at right back, centre back and also in a central midfield role making him up there with the most valuable young players in Europe at the moment. After solid first season at Old Trafford, Jones has been ruled out of the start of this campaign through injury. However when the 20-year-old returns to action it is thought that he will be utilised more at centre half in light of United’s injury crisis at the heart of their defence.
Centre Back: Steven Caulker (20, Tottenham Hotspur)
After a stellar season on loan to Swansea last year, Caulker has established himself in the Spurs setup this campaign. After playing for the Great Britain team at the Olympics during the summer, Caulker has been touted as a potential successor to John Terry at centre back for England. Still only 20-years-old, he still has some way to go until he has fully grown into a replacement for Terry, yet the more exposure to first team football that he gets at White Hart Lane this season, the closer he may become to installing himself as a first choice England half.
Centre Midfield: Jack Wilshere (20, Arsenal)
Having missed the entirety of last season through injury, Wilshere has made a welcomed return to first team football at the Emirates in the past couple of weeks. Touted as one of the hottest England prospects of his generation Wilshere is seen to be key to the redevelopment of the England squad, as Hodgson builds towards the 2014 World Cup, however it will be imperative that Wilshere re-establishes himself in the Arsenal side, whilst staying clear of injury, in order to meet the expectations of a nation in two years time.
Centre Midfield: Nick Powell (18, Manchester United)
After a superb season at Crewe last year, Powell made the switch to Manchester, where he has been impressive the handful of games that he has featured in so far. Touted as the next Paul Scholes it is important to remember that Powell is still only 18-years-old. It is likely that Sir Alex Ferguson will not want to overexpose Powell in his first season at Old Trafford, but as the former Crewe player settles into the United team we can expect to see him a lot more often.
Centre Midfield: Tom Cleverley (23, Manchester United)
After last season was cut short by injury Cleverley has not only fought his way back into the United side but also Hodgson’s England set-up. Recently the 23-year-old has been favoured over the likes of Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes and Anderson in the heart of the United midfield, and after some solid performances looks set to cement in the United side. Cleverley offers a unique sort of short passing and trickery for an English player, which if Hodgson can harness in the right way could help England move onto the next step on the international stage.
Right Wing: Raheem Sterling (17, Liverpool)
Possibly the surprise of the season so far, the 17-year-old has arguably been Liverpool’s best player this season and looks set to have a highly promising career ahead of him. His displays for the Reds have already merited him a call-up to Hodgson’s England squad in September and it would not be a surprise to see him make his full international debut before the end of the year. With his potential and Liverpool’s current decline it won’t be long until the rumour mill starts linking Sterling with a move away from Anfield.
Left Wing: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (19, Arsenal)
Already one of the stars of the Arsenal team, the Ox deservedly earned a call-up to England’s Euro 2012 squad, and was unlucky not to feature more for Hodgson’s side during the summer, but his chance to will surely come in Brazil, where he will be expect to shine.
Centre Forward: Danny Welbeck (21, Manchester United)
A solid season at Old Trafford earned him a call-up to England’s Euro 2012 squad, where he resumed his partnership with United team mate Wayne Rooney. The arrival of Robin Van Persie at Old Trafford has seen Welbeck’s first team opportunities reduced however he is still one of the best young strikers in the country and will be expected to make the plane to Brazil in just under two years time.