Here at Severn Sport we love debating young English talent, and most of the time we unanimously conclude that they’re all overrated. We’re an optimistic bunch aren’t we? Well I’d like to bump the trend and give my opinions on 10 of the best youth prospects that England have to offer, starting off with the first 5.
1) Lewis Cook – Midfielder – Leeds United
At just 18 years old, Lewis Cook is already one of the first names on the teamsheet at Leeds United, making 37 appearances for the first team. On 19 April, Cook cemented his place as one of the top prospects outside the Premier League when he won the Football League Championship Apprentice of the Year Award for the 2014/15 season. Internationally speaking Lewis Cook already has a major honour to his name, lifting the Euro Under 17 Championship trophy and has made 19 appearances at all levels of international football. Several Premier League clubs have already come in for him, but he’s determined to hone his craft at Leeds and has just signed a new contract until 2017.
2) Nathan Redmond – Winger – Norwich City
A player who has been on the radar for several seasons now, Nathan Redmond is one of the hottest properties in English football. The 21 year-old livewire winger made his first team debut for Birmingham City at the age of 16 years and 173 days. Since then he’s gone on to make 62 appearances for the Midlands club before moving onto Norwich City, where he has become arguably their best player. Next season is key for Redmond as it gives him a chance to really shine in the Premier League, which is where he should’ve been playing for the last 2 seasons in my eyes. It’s not like he’s inexperienced at international level either; Redmond has made 61 appearances at all levels of international football and at this year’s Under 21 European Championship he was the only English player named in the team of the tournament. In a team including the likes of Portugal’s William Carvalho, Bernado Silva and Ivan Cavealeiro that is an incredible achievement.
3) Dominic Solanke – Striker – Chelsea
At just 17 years old, Dominic Solanke is an excellent prospect. When you look at his international record at youth level you have to sit up and take notice: 13 goals in 14 games for England U17s, 10 in 11 for the Under 18 side. At any level, that is a fantastic strike rate right there. In May 2014, Solanke was part of the England squad that won the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship. He was the tournament’s joint top scorer with four goals in four appearances; a brace against Turkey, a goal in the semi-final secured a place in the final, and England’s goal in the final. In January 2015, Solanke was named England Men’s Youth Player of the Year 2014. Remember the name: ‘Dominic Ayodele Solanke-Mitchell’ (or Dom Solanke for short).
4) Ruben Loftus-Cheek – Midfielder – Chelsea
Loftus-Cheek joined Chelsea at the age of eight. He impressed at the beginning of the 2011–12 season before picking up a hip injury, from which he recovered by the end of the season to make a substitute appearance in the 2012 FA Youth Cup final. Loftus-Cheek made his senior debut for the club on 10 December 2014, replacing Cesc Fàbregas for the final 7 minutes of a UEFA Champions League group match against Sporting Lisbon at Stamford Bridge. He’s made 26 appearances at all international levels and was named in the squad for the Under 21 European Championship. If I was to describe him, I’d say he is an intriguing player of long-striding grace. His shielding, covering, deep-playmaking presence with a calmness in possession and a naturally telescopic reach would be a good fit for the senior England national team.
5) Adam Armstrong – Striker – Newcastle United
The final player to appear in part 1 is Adam Armstrong of Newcastle United. The 18-year-old has made 19 appearances for the Magpies since his debut during the 2013-14 season at the age of 16. He has a fantastic eye for goal and his movement in the area makes life difficult for defenders. It is an important stage of his development and he needs first-team games to progress as a player, and having just moved on loan to Coventry City until January this is a big chance for him in his career. On 26 August 2014, Armstrong received his first call-up to the England Under 18 team. He marked his debut with two goals in a friendly match against the Netherlands on 3 September. He followed this up with goals in victories against Poland and Switzerland to take his tally to four goals in his first four caps. In the second game against the Swiss, Armstrong scored twice as England won 6-1. His current tally for the Under 18s is 9 goals in 9 games; add that to his 10 in 12 for the Under 17s and you have to take notice of his incredible goalscoring record. I expect big things from him in the future, but he needs to be managed well by Tony Mowbray at Coventry and we’ll see where we are when his loan finishes in January.
That rounds off part 1 of England’s Top 10 Youth Prospects, come back on Saturday to see who makes up the remaining 5 spaces! Until next time…
Kelsey De Maria
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