Sport News

Supplied by

England’s five potential breakthrough stars

6:27 pm, 14th July 2018

A play-off defeat to Belgium was the final chapter at Russia 2018 but which young players are most likely to force their way into England’s senior squad? Here, we pick out five young stars who will be hoping to catch Southgate’s eye in the season ahead.

England bow out with play-off loss
What next for England?

Southgate’s 10 key calls

Ryan Sessegnon

Sessegnon is perhaps the most exciting member of England’s next generation. The left-back-turned-forward only celebrated his 18th birthday in May, but he has already amassed more than 80 senior appearances for Fulham. Last season, he scored 16 goals as they won promotion.

His thrilling potential has been obvious in England’s youth ranks as well as at club level. Sessegnon top scored for England’s U19s in last year’s triumphant European Championship campaign with three goals, and he made the step up to the U21s in March, with coach Aidy Boothroyd describing him as an “exceptional talent”.

Southgate feels the same way. He is believed to have given genuine consideration to including Sessegnon his World Cup squad. If the teenager picks up where he left off with Fulham in the Premier League, it would be no surprise to see him brought straight into the senior set-up for their European Championship qualifying campaign.

Phil Foden

Could Foden be the player to solve England’s creativity issue? The Manchester City technician is highly regarded by Pep Guardiola, who called him up to first-team training when he was still only 16 years old.

Since then, he has made 10 senior appearances for his boyhood club. In March, the 18-year-old became the youngest Englishman ever to play in the knockout stages of the Champions League when he started in City’s last-16 meeting with Swiss side Basel at the Etihad Stadium.

It is with England’s youth teams, however, that his talent has been most apparent. Foden won the Golden Ball as England won the U17 World Cup in India last year, scoring twice in the final against Spain. He faces a fight to win a place in City’s star-studded starting line-up, but his outstanding technical qualities are certain to appeal to Southgate.

Jadon Sancho

Sancho became a flag-bearer for young English players abroad when he turned down a new contract at Manchester City to join Borussia Dortmund last summer. He was hampered by injury in his first season in the Bundesliga, but still managed a goal and four assists in 12 appearances, impressing with his extraordinary pace and skill.

He will expect to feature more prominently next season, and there might be opportunities at international level too. Sancho was the player of the tournament in European U17 Championship in 2017, and he was also a member of their World Cup-winning squad alongside his former Manchester City team-mate Foden.

Mason Mount

Mount is another young player who has benefited from a move abroad. The Chelsea academy product is a goalscoring midfielder who spent last season on loan at Dutch side Vitesse, where he netted 14 goals and provided nine assists in 32 appearances to win their player of the year award.

Mount, a 2017 European U19 Championship winner along with Sessegnon, has already trained with England’s senior squad and is expected to continue his development on loan in the upcoming season, with Frank Lampard’s Derby County reportedly at the front of the queue for his signature.

Ademola Lookman

Lookman found playing opportunities hard to come by after his move from Charlton to Everton in 2016, but he made the most of his chances on loan at RB Leipzig in the second half of last season. In 11 Bundesliga appearances, the 20-year-old forward scored five goals and provided three assists

Leipzig are now eager to sign him permanently, but Everton have already rejected a £12m offer, with new manager Marco Silva eager to keep him at Goodison Park for the upcoming campaign.

Southgate is sure to keep a close eye on his development. Lookman is already well-known in the England set-up, having scored three goals in the U20s’ triumphant World Cup campaign last year, and he is now an important member of Boothroyd’s U21 squad.

Who else could make the breakthrough? Comment below to get involved in the debate, but please adhere to our House Rules. If you wish to report any comment, simply click on the down arrow next to the offending comment and click ‘Report’.