After crashing out of Euro 2016 to minnows Iceland, there was desperate need for change within the England national side. Roy Hodgson paid the price for his failures, leaving the job after not being offered a new contract.
We’ve now turned our attention to the World Cup qualifiers under the temporary stewardship of Gareth Southgate, but Tuesday’s stalemate in Slovenia was a familiar, wearisome story.
The national team set-up is in dire need of some refreshment. That could well be provided by the exciting crop of under-21s who are, if their 5-0 victory Bosnia-Herzegovina is anything to go by, fairing a lot better than their seniors. CaughtOffside has highlighted five English youngsters who are already good enough to contribute for their country at the top level.
Marcus Rashford may already be a member of the senior national side, but he is inexplicably being denied enough of an opportunity to make an impact. Whether it be leading the line or offering a cutting-edge from a wider area, Rashford’s dynamism and eye for a goal makes him a nightmare for any defence. Slovenia’s back four was relatively untroubled for 90 minutes on Tuesday night, and on our bench we had a player who has been terrorising defenders since his emergence earlier this year. It is crucial for the immediate and future success of the England national team that Rashford is given an adequate chance to deliver.
Tammy Abraham has been one of the breakout stars of the season so far. On loan at Bristol City from Chelsea, he has been an instant hit for The Robins, scoring 11 goals in 14 appearances in all competitions. He carried that explosive goal-scoring form into international duty, scoring twice on his first England U-21 start. Abraham has answered every question posed to him so far in his career and after a toothless display from Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge against Slovenia, he has an argument to be given an opportunity to lead the line.
Jack Grealish has been at the centre of controversy off the field having been pictured inhaling nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas. Aston Villa owner and chairman took to Twitter to offer some words of advice to the youngster.
There can be no disputes as to Grealish’s talents on the field, though, and his decision to represent England at international level ahead of the Republic of Ireland may be of great benefit to the senior side in the future. He, like Abraham, flaunted his talents in England U21s demolition of Bosnia-Herzegovina, bagging three assists in what the Daily Mail branded a man-of-the-match display.
After five England-based loans and a season-long spell at Napoli, Nathaniel Chalobah has finally managed to break into Chelsea’s first-time squad. Antonio Conte opted to keep Chalobah around at Stamford Bridge this season opposed to loaning him out again. He also handed him his Premier League debut during their 2-0 victory over Hull last weekend, a long overdue debut for a player who has spent 11 years at the club. Chalobah has made an astounding 88 appearances for his country from U-16 level to U-21, but is yet to be given a call-up to the senior squad. In the current England squad there is only Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson who can play a holding role in the midfield. Chalobah has proven at five different levels that he can perform in that position for his country. It could well be time for him to prove he can do it with the senior side.
Though only 21-years-old, James Ward-Prowse has already made 112 appearances in the Premier League. Accompany that with 24 appearances for his country at U-21 level and you have a player with a wealth of experience, even at a young age. Time and time again for Southampton Ward-Prowse has proven his quality in the midfield. He is not limited by his age, instead he achieves a performance level and consistency far beyond his years. Ward-Prowse is also somewhat of a set-piece specialist, you only have to look as far as the Euro 2016 disaster in which Harry Kane was on corner duty to see that his quality would come in handy. While others at senior level are faltering, Ward-Prowse continues to perform and continues to be ignored. He has a an abundance of talent and should be given the opportunity to show it on an international stage.