England's newest talent vying for Three Lions selection
There have been a number of success stories in the Premier League so far this season: the partnership of Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa; Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez instantaneously adapting to the league and Southampton’s new signings exceeding all expectations.
However, the biggest triumph for most has been the abundance of newly-emerging English talent that has been dominating the headlines on a weekly basis. It was not so long ago that there seemed a lack of options for Roy Hodgson, but now he could find himself with an even greater problem when deciding on his Three Lions squad – who not to include?
Captain Wayne Rooney is of course a mainstay, and a fully fit Daniel Sturridge has the potential to be a world class striker. Danny Welbeck, meanwhile, is a versatile addition to the squad, yet there have been better performers this season.
Charlie Austin the 25-year-old, former Poole Town, striker has 12 goals in the league so far, behind only Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa. The Queens Park Rangers man has a further two 2 assists to his name; therefore contributing to 64% of his side’s league goals for the current season.
Austin is like a new kind of poacher. He is strong and physical, but really he depends on quality service into the box. Unfortunately, as Chris Waddle has alluded, that is not how international football really works. If Austin were to lead the line for England, would he able to hold the ball up on his own and bring others into play around him? After a slow start to the season Austin only really began to flourish upon Bobby Zamora’s introduction to the starting line-up. This allowed for longer balls into the box, and consequent knock downs, from which Austin could feed off.
The top flight’s next highest scoring Englishman is West Brom’s Saido Berahino, who has 8 goals in the league and 13 in all competitions, following his quartet against Gateshead in the FA Cup. The 21-year-old has been the constant source of transfer speculation, with various stories linking him with a high profile move to either Liverpool or Tottenham.
While three of his league goals have come from the penalty spot, he is a player with undoubted finishing ability. In a team that creates more chances than West Brom he could do a great deal of damage. Nonetheless, for England, the same doubts arise for Berahino as they do for Austin. Yet, while there are concerns regarding his hold up play – he is not a typical number 9, in the same mould as Michael Owen, for example – he does help create almost one goal scoring opportunity a game.
If he does join a club like Liverpool or Spurs he will undoubtedly get more chances to be involved in the England set-up. That said, he has largely struggled since his last call up to Roy Hodgson’s side.
Perhaps the player with the most meteoric rise is the young Harry Kane or as Spurs fans refer to him, ‘The HurriKane’. The fascination with the 21-year-old has reached new heights after his man-of-the-match performance in the Lilywhite’s 5-3 win over Chelsea, during which he scored two goals and made two assists.
He has seven league goals so far this season, at 0.63 per 90 minutes, while he has also managed five in five in the Europa League, as well as three in three in the League Cup. It really has been a fantastic season so far for the Tottenham forward.
He can hold the ball up, has an aerial presence, is strong, quick, drives at players, is a fantastic finisher and has a very clever football brain which allows him to choose his passes like the one for Chadli’s goal against Chelsea. The question for England, though, is, do they have a system or a ‘Christian Eriksen’ type player who is able to creates the space Kane requires to operate? And, will his pure hard work be enough to implement himself on the international stage?
The signs are very promising for Harry Kane, Tottenham and England, but it remains to be seen if this is just great form, or the beginning of something fantastic. Nonetheless, a Three Lions call-up is imminent.
Danny Ings is the fourth new front-man who has emerged Hodgson’s radar this season. Ings has already scored five Premier League goals for a Burnley side that has faced somewhat of a struggle in the final third. Clarets manager Sean Dyche requires a lot from all his players the 22-year-old is no exception; he works very hard for the team and creates numerous chances for his team mates.
However, he does have a poor shot accuracy compared to the other strikers mentioned and his lack of goals per minute in comparison to them also stands out. Ings is out of contract at the end of the season and, like Berahino, he finds himself as the subject of transfer speculation.
With such fierce competition for places at international level, he will probably have to move to a bigger club to earn full recognition. Having said this, he does appear to have the attributes required to excel at international level.
It is highly unlikely that Hodgson would drop Welbeck or Sturridge, when he’s fit, while Rooney is, of course, immune due to his role as captain. Based on Hodgson’s usual team selections, it is likely that there is one attacking squad place up for grabs.
At the moment it would seem that man of the hour Harry Kane would be the forerunner for the place, but if the other three can keep up their goal-scoring form and/or join a bigger club playing European football, they could well force themselves into the squad.