England seem to be out of form at almost every level of football at the moment and many have been quick to lay the blame the lack of young English players in the Premier League. With this in mind, here are nine English starlets who we could see making an impression in the country’s top league next season:
John Stones: With Phil Neville having retired, Tony Hibbert consistent but average and Seamus Coleman neither a true right back nor midfielder, there is one obvious weakness in the Everton squad. However, Everton do have on their roster their January signing from Barnsley, 19 year old John Stones.
At six foot two, Stones is tall and strong and will provide good balance to Leighton Baines’ frequent surging attacking runs.
Also able to play at centre back and with Everton lacking depth in that area also; with only Jagielka, Distin and new signing Alcaraz on the books, Stones certainly deserves a chance to prove himself at the top level.
He already has a solid season in the Championship under his belt with Barnsley and Stones’ versatility and great potential mean that we should certainly be seeing his debut for Everton sooner rather than later.
Ross Barkley: Another Everton starlet, this player’s potential has already been well reported, unfortunately as have his injury problems.
For a couple of seasons now, Barkley has been touted as one to watch, but has struggled with injuries and fitness, having to overcome a horrific leg break and finding it hard to force himself into a settled Everton line up.
Last season however, Barkley, aided by loan moves to Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United, made 27 appearances in total and showed an ability to score, hitting four goals for Sheffield.
If Barkley is able to keep this momentum heading in to next season and has better luck with injuries, he definitely deserves a chance in the Premier League next season.
Able to play in midfield and attack, Barkley should suit new Toffies manager Martinez’s attacking style of play, with an excellent eye for a pass and an electrifying dribbling ability.
Wilfried Zaha: Sir Alex Ferguson’s last ever signing as Manchester United manager, Wilfried Zaha has a huge amount of Championship experience for a 20 years old, having already racked up 143 appearances with Crystal Palace.
Possessing incredible pace, Zaha’s direct attacking style has earned a move to the Premier League champions and there is no doubt that he deserves a chance to show his ability at the highest level.
A return of 18 goals in all those appearances may not seem overly impressive, but apart from a few cameos as a striker, Zaha scored all these goals from the right wing.
Furthermore, all bar one of Zaha’s goals have come in the past two seasons, when this is combined with his 28 assists, it is obvious that Zaha has plenty to offer at Premier League level, whether that is with Manchester United, or out on loan at another side, with Palace along with a host of other teams eager for him to return.
Will Hughes: Young, talented and full of flair, Will Hughes is one of the most talented English players of his generation. With an excellent range of passing and an extraordinary ability to never give the ball away, Hughes has already drawn comparisons to Xavi and Iniesta, with Barcelona having famously compiled a dossier of the Derby starlet.
The comparisons to Iniesta in particular are not exaggerated; Hughes’ eye for a pass, combined with his dribbling and on the ball ability certainly is evocative of the Spanish playmaker.
Hughes’ talent certainly deserves testing at the highest and a move to a Premier League club had looked on the cards. However, interest seems to have cooled recently, with Derby’s asking price seeming to have put suitors off.
Although he definitely deserves a chance, it now seems unlikely that we will see Hughes in the Premier League next season, with the last interested club Newcastle now looking to have cooled their intent.
Nathaniel Chalobah: At only eighteen, Chalobah has only limited experience. However, a stellar season in the Championship on loan at Watford means that he certainly deserves a chance to show his ability in the Premier League this season.
Aggressive and powerful, although also able to play in defence, Chalobah excels in a deep lying midfield role; his talking and passing ability enable him to dominate possession at times.
The young Chelsea midfielder combines all this with a great eye for goal; hitting five goals for Watford last term, including a couple of absolute screamers.
The deep lying midfield role at Chelsea has been identified as a possible weakness by many, but new (old) manager Mourinho has strengthened this area; bring in Dutch player Marko van Ginkel and retaining the previously outcast Michael Essien.
Whether he is given his chance in the Chelsea first team or given more loan experience, fully expect to see Chalobah’s all action performances in the Premier League this season.
Tommie Hoban: Perhaps a slightly unusual choice given that he has only twenty senior appearances to his name, however, despite a season cut short by injury, Hoban’s unbeatable performances at centre back for Watford was enough to earn him the acclaim of Watford’s Young Player of the Season award for the 2012/13 season.
Hoban undoubtedly needs to bulk up, as well as prove his fitness across a whole season, with Premier League teams unlikely to come a knocking until he does so. However, on raw talent alone, Hoban is definitely a player that deserves his shot in England’s top league sooner rather than later.
Sam Byram: In last year’s preseason, then Leeds manager Neil Warnock brought in Lee Peltier as his new first choice right back. Come the first game of the season however, it was Sam Byram that occupied that position, with Peltier pushed over to the left of the defence and later on the centre, in order to accommodate Byram.
Warnock was impressed enough by Byram’s showing in preseason to award him a starting berth and the talented young defender didn’t look back, racking up 53 appearances and scooping up won the Player of the Year Award, Young Player of the Year Award, Players Player of the Year Award and also the Supporters Club Player of the Year Award at the club’s annual award evening.
Byram has been likened to Gareth Bale, however, although of course he operates on the right, Byram’s attacking instincts, direct, strong running and ability to create from deeper positions, is more evocative of Leighton Baines.
Byram has announced his intention to stay with Leeds and battle for promotion next season; however, if a Premier League team do come in with an offer, it will certainly be a chance that Byram fully deserves.
Raheem Sterling: An odd year all round for Sterling. He erupted onto the scene for Liverpool; his startling pace and slaloming runs, combining with a seemingly natural football brain, Sterling went from relatively unknown outside of LFC fans, to being hyped as the greatest young talent in the country.
Openly courted by the country of his birth Jamaica, Sterling’s season culminated in his first England appearance in November.
However, Sterling’s form dramatically dipped, and despite making 36 appearances in all competitions, his goal and assist return remained poor and it was generally reported he was suffering from burn out as he fell down the Liverpool pecking order.
Despite this dip last season, Sterling is obviously a supremely talented player, reminiscent of Walcott and more recently Oxlade-Chamberlain; Sterling will certainly get more chances next season and at just 18 he has plenty of time to realise his potential.
Nick Powell: One of the products of Crewe Alexandria’s apparently inexhaustible youth academy, Powell signed for Manchester United last season, but failed to make as many appearances as he would have liked.
In the 2011-2012 season was at times unplayable for Crewe, winning games single-handedly at times, embarking on mazing dribbles and scoring some truly fantastic goals.
Powell showed glimpses of this ability, particularly with his goal against Wigan Athletic in September, however, for Crewe, despite his brilliance Powell also regularly showed signs of petulance and selfishness, going missing in games at times.
It is perhaps this immaturity that led to Powell’s limited number of appearances for Manchester United last term.
What is certain is that Powell is a great talent and United are certainly lacking a creative central midfield player; expect to see much more of Powell in the Premier League this year.