Well, despite Wazza losing the plot yet again, England qualified for Euro 2012 last week – guest blogger Richard Smith runs the rule over some of the prospects that could make their international breakthroughs in Poland and the Ukraine next summer…
Having confirmed their place at Euro 2012 next Summer – as any England fan will acknowledge – nothing is straight forward when it comes to the “Three Lions” and tournament football there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future of the English National team.
Current England coach, Fabio Capello, is set to step down when his contract is up next year but with that seems to have come a series of risk averse decisions from the Italian who has been happy to call the changes in the England teams and its formation recently. A far cry from the approach to player selection and tactics that saw the side crash out of the World Cup in 2010.
Capello has handed call-ups to a number of young players when naming recent squads and with, England fans have seen some of the older, more established players not featuring, be it forced through injury (Steven Gerrard) or dropped (Lampard in the recent qualifier against Bulgaria), performances have been much better and there’s hope that this approach will continue in the build up to next summer’s European Championships and beyond, laying the solid foundations for whoever becomes the next England manager who will have the task of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Listed below are a number of emerging English players who have either featured in Capello’s recent squads or will no doubt be in contention before the end of the season, the future is certainly a lot brighter for England than it was heading to South Africa!
Phil Jones â€“ Aged 19 (Manchester United)
With the injuries to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at Manchester United, 19 year old Phil Jones has been thrust into the side early by manager Sir Alex Ferguson and has played like he has been there for years.
A very promising prospect, Jones not only can he defend like his life depends upon it, he can play football too and is an excellent reader of the game who has great pace and a first rate touch. He is so good in fact that he would not look out of place in midfield and his performances so far this season for United is sure to give Fergie a selection headache when both Ferdinand and Vidic are back fit.
With regards to his England career, he looks a ready made replacement for John Terry who will no doubt hang up his international boots after Euro 2012 but in the mean time, if Jones continues to feature and play so well for United, he’s sure to be in Capello’s plans going forward.
Tom Cleverley â€“ Aged 22 (Manchester United)
it is a shame that Jones’s United team mate got injured so early in the season as at that time, he was playing so well that Capello could not have possibly excluded him from his next squad. It is rare for players to get Sir Alex Ferguson too excited but clearly Cleverley has; his all round ability in midfield particularly his perception has improved enormously since he returned to Old Trafford after a season long loan spell with Wigan and he now looks set for a long term future at both club and international level.
Kyle Walker â€“ Aged 21 (Tottenham Hotspur)
Harry Redknapp has finally bowed to the pressure and has started to include this highly gifted full back in the first team at White Hart Lane. Redknapp has always liked the player but with first team opportunities hard to come by last season, Walker went on a loan spell at Aston Villa and quickly became a big hit. It was thought at one point that Villa would persuade Redknapp to part with him permanently but the Tottenham boss, recognises his profound talent and he has signed him on a long term deal. It will not be long before he gets his chance at International level and he is known to be on Capello’s radar.
Jack Rodwell â€“ Aged 20 (Everton)
Although there is plenty of competition for places in the England midfield line up, there are many urging Capello to include Rodwell who is one of the best defensive midfielders around. There were plenty of clubs expressing interest in him in the recent transfer window but Rodwell seemingly has no intention of leaving his club, Everton. He has represented his country at all levels with the exception of the senior side and if he can earn a regular place in the Everton first team then he is a very lively outside chance to make Capelloâ€™s Euro 2012 squad.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain â€“ Aged 18 (Arsenal)
Son of former England international, Mark Chamberlain, this young man is one of the most gifted ball players that has been seen for many years. He is so talented that Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, signed him from Southampton for an immediate fee of Â£12m which could rise to Â£15m with “add-ons”. He made his debut for Southampton last season and played 36 times for them in their promotion campaign, scoring nine goals from midfield. His move to Arsenal follows almost identically in the footsteps of Theo Walcott, who joined the Gunners at 17 and then was included in the England squad that went to Germany for the 2006 World Cup, something his new team will be keen to replicate. Whilst an England call up may not be imminent, Oxlade-Chamberlain is certainly one for the future!
We’ll be back later in the week with an update on the play offs and our first look at England’s prospects next summer…