It’s always a tough adjustment going from the intensity of Premier League football every weekend to the summer s football lull. This time last year we were fortunate enough to forgo this period thanks to the phenomenal Brazil World Cup, this year we are lucky enough to have the EURO-U21 Championships where we can have a real look at the potential future stars for the Three Lions.
After the humiliation suffered by the English U-21’s in the EURO-U21’s in 2013, which saw the young Lions suffer three losses from three games and elimination from the group stages, this competition could have massive ramifications on the future of English international football as we look forward to the potential future stars of England. With this in mind, we took a look at those standout U-21 internationals that will be fighting for a place in the first team squad before too long.
Arsenal’s Carl Jenkinson spent the 2014/15 season on loan in East London under the management of Big Sam Allardyce at West Ham and thrived. Jenkinson made the move across the capital after Arsenal obtained the services of Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle. Whilst plying his trade at Upton Park, Jenkinson received heavy praise for his speed, strength and reading of the game. Carl’s contention for the Three Lions was in doubt two years ago as the right back weighed up his potions due to his mother’s Finnish nationality. Now a confirmed England international, Jenkinson offers a fantastic option for a position that England have suffered with since the retirement of the legendary Gary Neville. With England’s most recent right sided full back Glen Johnson looking like he is set to wave goodbye to his playing career, Jenkinson offers a hugely promising replacement with brilliant understanding of the game and experience well beyond his 23 years.
Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek is the only uncapped player in England’s squad for the European Under-21 Championship this summer but is by no means going to be a young man out of his depth. Despite incredibly recent comments from Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho regarding a specific performance from Cheek in a Chelsea post-season game in Sydney, the Portuguese ‘Special One’ is a huge fan of the young midfielder. Mourinho has shown real faith in Ruben, even starting him in a Premier League tie with Liverpool ahead of Nemanja Matic. Loftus-Cheek has been a player who’s maturity has been studied by some of the biggest clubs in World football with a firm belief that the 19-year-old has the potential to become a crucial player for Mourinho’s Chelsea and now Hodgson’s England.
20-year-old Derby County star Will Hughes has been a player subject to numerous transfer inquiries since his standout season for the Rams that resulted in the young, creative midfielder being awarded the Player Of The Year and earning his call-up to Gareth Southgate’s U-21 squad. Liverpool have been the most forthright admirers of Hughes and have been tracking his progress for two seasons now. Hughes played a huge part in the U-21 sides qualification to the summer’s tournament, with eight appearances and four starts across the campaign bringing his International record up to 14 caps and two goals already. Hughes stellar form this season has turned the heads of many Premier League clubs, with Tottenham Hotspur declaring a public interest in the midfielder as the season ended. With his electric blonde hair and brilliantly European style of play, Hughes is a huge talent for the future and certainly somebody worth watching this summer.
Harry Kane’s inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s U-21 squad is, in itself, reason enough to be hugely excited about this fresh crop of England internationals. One of the best players in the Premier League for the 2014/15 campaign and winner of the Young Player Of The Year award. With 31 goal in all competitions and 21 in the Premier League alone, Kane was unstoppable this season, playing an integral role in Tottenham’s, at times unlikely fifth placed finish. Harry Kane is a player very used to the pressure put on him and has even showed that one of his stand-out qualities being his ability to thrive on such pressure. With huge goals against local and bitter rivals Arsenal as well as a brace against the eventual League winners Chelsea, Kane is not a player we have to worry about feeling out of his depth this summer. Alongside his phenomenal season domestically, Kane has shown his caliber on the International level after earning a call-up to Roy Hodgson’s first team and finding the back of the net after only two minutes on the pitch. Kane is sure to be one of the standout stars of the tournament and most definitely a player destined to don the white Three Lions shirt for years to come.