Following on from Monday’s post, today I will be looking at the side I would field for a 24 and younger British team from the Premiership. I have to say that I would find it very difficult to field this side because it is completely off balance, focussing almost completely on the attack. However, when looking at the available players (not just those listed below), there was a clear gap in performance between offensive and defensive talent.
I would have liked to have put in Chambers and Shaw, but I don’t see them much stronger than any of the back three I have lined up. For that matter there are no two players I could have happily taken out to make room for them. This line-up is, therefore, more of a fantasy formation to show off the best possible talent. So let’s have a look at them:
GK Jordan Pickford (Sunderland, 23) the little note I want to make to start off with is that I could have also gone with Jack Butland, but he has been injured for most of the season while Pickford has been playing really well. He has had a strong season for the worst team in the Premier League, behind a back four that isn’t great, a stat that proves that is him making the second most saves in the league. To add to that he has the personality to be England’s future no.1.
LB Luke Shaw (Manchester United, 21) is having a season to forget with a groin injury as well as a lot of time spent on the bench and in the stands. However, in terms of blistering pace and defensive ability I think that he is one of the UK’s best talents.
CB John Stones (Manchester City, 22) a really interesting guy who is good at starting the play to go forward but not the best tackler in my book. that is why he does well to have one or two partners in defence that are strong in this respect.
CB Mason Holgate (Everton, 20) third youngest player in this squad, I don’t think he is the finished product yet but he has shown some real flashes of potential this year as well as the versatility to play RB as well.
CB Alfie Mawson (Swansea, 23) after Stones and Holgate, the third defender who made the move to the Premier League from Barnsley. Ball playing CB who has good toughness, strong tackler and is good for a goal because he is a great header of the ball (4 goals in 25 games is decent for a young CB). He is a calm and collected guy who has the potential to be a defensive leader.
CB Michael Keane (Burnley, 24) another defender I really rate. He is fast running forward and doesn’t get his legs tangled when running backwards with attackers. A very agressive but clean tackler who doesn’t take his eyes off the ball and doesn’t get fooled by the fancy tricks of attackers. No surprise that he is already starting to become a solid starter for the Three Lions.
RB Calum Chambers (Middlesbrough, 22) good passer of the ball, good pace, calm under pressure and a versatile player in that he can play RB, CB and DM. Much more mature than you would think of a 22 year old and it was really difficult to choose between him and Stones. I went for Stones because I decided on 3 CBs and Stones can set up the play from deeper, while Chambers has more of a drive forward.
LW Raheem Sterling (Manchester City, 22) fast guy who likes to drive it into the box. Very good finisher and tougher than he looks.He can be a bit up and down on his moral sometimes and can be a bit pouty when things don’t go well. If he sorts that out and continues to improve: the sky is the limit.
DM Eric Dier (Tottenham, 23) naturally a DM, has shown this year that he can drop back into CB if needs be. That’s why he fits into this squad so well, if I only have 3 defensive guys I need someone who can support them. Strong in tackling and holding the ball in midfield, and can play a strong pass too.
DM Tom Davies (Everton, 18) youngest guy on my squad. CM who likes to go forward but uses his energy to go back and win balls. A real box to box guy, who I can’t wait to see more of in the future.
DM Tom Carroll (Swansea, 24) he is another guy who likes to get in and around the opponent’s box, but for me would do well in settling in a bit deeper. He can pick out a good pass and is calm under pressure. A big thing he needs to change though is to calm down with the fancy tricks with the ball, most of the time they don’t add anything.
OM Ross Barkley (Everton, 23) having a bit of growing pains this season, but he is a guy who is already growing into a leader at Everton at a young age. A very physical player who can drive the ball forward, can score goals, can pick out a pass and is a real midfield dynamo.
OM Dele Alli (Tottenham, 21) the boy with a temper. A very physical and strong player, which you might not think because he almost seems lanky, but isn’t scared to go where it hurts. I wouldn’t say that all his talents are undermined by his temperament, but he does pick up a couple more cards than he perhaps needs to. What I do like though is that at such a young age he is not afraid of anyone on the pitch. Very talented on the ball and can score goals. In a way he reminds me of a bad boy Thomas Müller.
RM Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal, 23) the ox? I know that it his nickname, but it just doesn’t sit right with me because an Ox is a castrated Bull, and Mr Oxlade-Chamberlain is definitely not a docile farm animal. A rampant Bull could definitely be used to describe him though when he drives down the side or into the box and uses his power to shake off defenders. I have liked him for a long time and I’m glad he is getting more time on the ball this year.
ST Harry Kane (Tottenham, 23) 27 scorer points in 27 Premier League games this season says it all. He missed 7 games this season but is still the second best goalscorer in the League. Can make goals with any part of his body and I think he is the most complete goalscorer in the league, at 23!
ST Marcus Rashford (Manchester United, 19) great striker and will probably become one of the best strikers in the UK. I really like the fact that he is not just a box player but has really good feet and strength for someone his build and can come off the side to set others up. Definitely has the potential to be just as good as Kane.
In my post from yesterday I also did an analysis of different plays that the team could do and into what formations they could fall. Because this is more of a fantasy line-up, as mentioned at the beginning, I am not going to waste time doing this. What I do want to highlight though is that finally the UK seem to be bringing out a generation of really good footballers, which should give them great perspective internationally.
While they have always seen themselves as “one of the favourites” going into every tournament, over the next 5 years this might actually become reality if the players carry on developing true to their potential and have a steady international coach. I hope Gareth Southgate stays for a long time because he has a good philosophy and isn’t scared to leave big names at home if they’re not performing. Something that hasn’t always been a given in recent times.
Next week I will be giving you the line-ups for the International 25+ and U24 Squads.