Football is a notoriously tricky game to predict. Players can look so promising before falling away, while other peak late and enjoy an ‘Indian summer’ during their careers. However, even though EURO 2016 is the next big tournament on the horizon for the Three Lions, the next addition of the competition in 2020 is intriguing. Just over five years down the line, some of England’s now promising stars may be fully-fledged Premier League forces, and whomever succeeds Roy Hodgson could build a formidable side…
Here’s how we think England – in a 4-3-3 set-up – could look for the European Championships…
Goalkeepers can go on for a while, and at 33, Hart will still be in his ‘peak’ years between the sticks. By 2020, the Manchester City ace may well have gained enough experience to iron out the errors that plague his game right now, while he may well have in excess of 100 caps, joining an elite band of players.
Just 20 now, Chambers will be at the height of his physical powers by the time 2020 rolls around. Although he’s played in midfield and at centre-back since joining Arsenal last year, his future is likely to be at right-back, where his pace, ability to support the attack and football intelligence are put to good use.
Another 20-year-old defender, Everton’s Stones may well be one of England’s best options by 2020. Already a full international and a first-team player at Goodison Park, the centre-back could well have moved to a ‘top’ Premier League team in five years’ time and by plying his trade week in, week out at the highest level.
At 34, Cahill’s career could well be on a downward trajectory, but if he’s anything like Chelsea team-mate John Terry, he’ll still be doing a job in his mid 30s. A little experience goes a long way, and whoever is in charge of the Three Lions by the time the EUROs kick off may be tempted to keep him in the fold.
Whether or not Shaw will remain English football’s most expensive teenager is unknown, but he should be in his absolute prime in 2020. Due to be 24 by the time the tournament rolls around – his birthday will be in the middle of proceedings – Shaw could well be a regular at Manchester United and have tamed his attacking instincts to balance his game.
Due be 29/30 when the competition kicks off, Henderson is possible captain material. Set to become the Reds’ skipper this summer, the midfielder has plenty of scope to improve and already looks to be a natural leader on the pitch due to his vocal nature and willingness to take responsibility.
Tipped to break into the Chelsea first-team soon, Loftus-Cheek looks to be the real deal. Powerful, athletic, good on the ball, composed, the midfielder has the potential to be very, very special. He’s due to be 24 when EURO 2020 comes around and as long as he stays focused the future looks bright.
At 26, Barkley could be England’s ‘new Gazza’. Blessed with the bombarding playing style of the former Three Lions great, the Everton ace currently lacks the positional awareness and consistency to be counted on now, but time could iron out the creases, and he certainly does look to have the technical ability to be a top star.
The darling of English football right now, Sterling is a player being tipped for the very top. Liverpool’s attacker has versatility, pace and experience in his repertoire already – he’s still just 20-years-old – and so long as he doesn’t hit a Michael Owen-esque decline, 2020 will be slap bang in the middle of his peak years.
A contentious one as the Republic of Ireland are battling for his international future, but Grealish remains eligible to pay for England at senior level. He’s represented his adopted nation at youth level, but being a Midlands born man, he could well sway towards the Three Lions, particularly with big tournament success more likely. Only 19, the winger is breaking through at Aston Villa, and looks to have the talent to be a promising wide player.
30 goals in one season and a debut England goal, Kane’s future looks bright. By 2020 he’ll be 26 (soon to be 27) and as long as this season isn’t a ‘flash in the pan’ he could be the goal threat England have lacked for a while. Not the most gifted player technically, but the Spurs ace has plenty of desire and offers a physical presence along with willing running.