This EPL season has definitely been a very exciting one so far and even more so for England fans around the globe who follow not only the club but the national team as well. There have been a handful of notable young English players that could make the step up to the senior squad in the near future and, perhaps, finally bring glory to the Three Lions. So here’s my pick for the Best XI Under 25.
Goalkeeper: Jack Butland, 21 years old, Stoke City Has shown good potential, only time will tell if he will make the cut in the next few years.
Right-Back: Nathaniel Clyne, 23 years old, Southampton Has been a mainstay of the Saint’s backline with 23 appearances this season. Even notches 2 goals for his team. Good at getting forward with dribbles and tackling when needed. Weak in the air at times.
Centre-Back: Phil Jones, 22 years old, Manchester United A real physical presence in the middle. Jones has the strength and speed to track his man and is not afraid to put his body on the line for the team. Good with interceptions and is a strong tackler.
Centre-Back: Calum Chambers, 20 years old, Arsenal Usually played out on the right but also effective in the middle. Chambers is strong in the air, has good concentration and passing but might want to work on his possession. 23 appearances and 1 goal for his club this season, he is a clear choice for the position.
Left-Back: Danny Rose, 24 years old, Tottenham Hotspurs He’s as fit and as fast as they come. Never once stopped running during the London derby. A real threat down the flanks as an attacking fullback but is prone to clumsy challenges at times.
Central Midfield: Ross Barkley, 21 years old, Everton A rare gem of a player. Gifted with pace, power and the technical abilities to compliment his movement. One of the best young box to box players who can provide penetration and protection for his team at the same time.
Centre-Mid: Jordan Henderson, 24 years old, Liverpool The engine room of the team. A tireless worker who will keep opponents on their toes with his efforts. Has an eye for the occasional thru ball but his main role will be to win the ball and keep it moving with his short passing game.
Attacking Mid-Right: Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, 21 years old, Arsenal Yet another speedster from the Gunner’s academy. Good at dribbling and his pace will most definitely give wingbacks a headache. Good at cutting in or making crosses from out wide.
Attacking Mid-Centre: Jack Wilshere, 23 years old, Arsenal The fire that lights the cannon. A very spirited player that never backs down from a challenge or tackle. Good with the ball at his feet and will be able to pick out key thru passes for his team mates to exploit.
Attacking Mid-Left: Raheem Sterling, 20 years old, Liverpool One of Pool’s key players, he has already notched 6 goals to his name in 29 appearances. Amazing dribbling skills and final passes but needs to learn when to release the ball at times as he does tend to overdo things at times.
Forward: Harry Kane, 21 years old, Tottenham Hotspurs Was there any doubt? 21 goals for Spurs this season, Kane has been a revelation for the club. Strong in the air, great finishing and vision to set up his team mates. Strong long shots as well, some might say he is a younger and maybe faster version of Alan Shearer.
Kieran Gibbs, 25 years old, Arsenal Almost as good as Clyne, just that Southampton has been having a better season than Arsenal at this point of time. Has been a solid mainstay full back for Arsenal this season.
Luke Shaw, 19 years old, Manchester United Has shown potential in his debut season at United. Still has a long way to go before being a starter for the national team but given time – Shaw’s potential should be realised and we would be looking at England’s next go to Left-Back.
Danny Welbeck, 24 years old, Arsenal Thriving under the Arsenal style of play, Welbeck has yet to establish himself as a Centre-Forward and is often used as he was at United – out of position. As an effective threat on the flanks and a self proclaimed striker, his versatility is not doing him any favours. 7 goals in 20 appearances, not the kind of returns you would expect from a striker.
Jordon Ibe, 19 years old, Liverpool Another promising young talent from Liverpool, has shown potential in the matches he has started this season. Besides displaying good speed and technique he has also displayed the ability to make intelligent decisions when on the ball which is not commonly found in younger players.
Daniel Strurridge, 25 years old, Liverpool Would definitely have been an automatic starter in a traditional 4-4-2 formation or one that would have two strikers. Kane is just having a phenomenal season. England fans have something to look forward to when Kane and Sturridge eventually become the mainstay strikers for the national team.
Danny Ings, 22 years old, Burnley 21 goals for Burnley in the Championship last season saw them promoted to the EPL this season. Has 9 goals to his name this season and should be able to hit a decent 15 by the end of the season. Not too bad for a striker in the 19th place team. Definitely will be snapped up by a mid table team come transfer season.
Saido Berahino, 21 years old, West Bromwich Albion 16 goals in all competitions this season, bet you would have never guessed. One of the few reasons why West Brom is clear from the relegation zone and will also likely move to a mid table club within the next two seasons.
This Best XI was more or less put together based on this season’s performances. I’d have loved to include Daniel Sturridge in the starting XI but with Kane’s form this season there was no way anyone else could have that position.
The only way I can see fitting Sturridge in the lineup was to play a flat 4-4-2 with Barkley and Wilshere in the middle, thus removing Henderson from the equation. The number of attacking talents will still be there but England has disbanded the traditional 4-4-2 in recent tournaments.
England’s future does look promising. Barring the inexperience of the central defenders—which will always be a problem when using young players—the rest of the team does look good on paper. But then again, that has always been England’s problem: they’ve always had a strong team on paper yet fail to deliver on the big stage.
One very interesting thing to note is that with the exception of two or three players listed in the complete line up—the rest of them are extremely speedy players. If the Three Lions can somehow use that to their advantage, I’m sure the next World Cup will be most interesting to watch…