With the beleaguered Fabio Capello searching to add a youthful edge to his ageing England team and the introduction of new Premier League rules allowing clubs to name an unlimited number of under-21s in their squads, it is an exciting time for talented youngsters. Whether overseas or home-grown young players have an open invitation to flourish this season and here is a guide to ten future stars who will be looking to make an impact.
The attacking midfielder who has played out wide but prefers to operate in the centre is hopeful of first team chances at the Emirates this season. His loan spell at Bolton did not go unnoticed as he earned his first senior England cap against Hungary this week. The creative schemer has received high praise from Capello: “He plays without fear, with confidence. This is not normal to be so young and so good.”
This talented Evertonian made his senior debut for the club at 16. He has been utilised in defence but is destined for a central midfield role given his quality on the ball. The 19-year old who scored his first PL goal against Manchester United earlier this year impressed as captain this week for the England under-21s as they beat Uzbekistan.
When Crystal Palace were forced to sell their most prized asset in January, this Nigerian born youngster was linked with moves to both Manchester clubs and even Real Madrid. Eventually the delights of Wigan beckoned for the speedy, powerful playerswho is used either as a winger or a striker. Known for scoring spectacular goals the 19-year old can expect more playing time at the DW Stadium this season.
West Brom’s Young Player of the Year was within a whisker of giving New Zealand a victory in their 1-1 draw with Italy at the World Cup. The 19-year old Kiwi striker featured fleetingly in the Baggies’ last PL season. The imposing figure who has been heralded as an old-fashioned centre forward may bring an extra dimension to West Brom’s attack this season.
With a new manager imminent at Villa Park, this tricky winger will be hoping to impress this campaign. The 20-year old who has once turned down by West Brom came through Villa’s youth system. Accustomed to playing on the right wing, Albrighton is known for his pace, skill and accurate crossing ability.
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The 21-year old Jamaican born forward should have sent a clear message to Capello about the dangers of calling Jamie Carragher out of international retirement when he easily outpaced the Liverpool defender last season. The West Ham player earned his side a penalty that day and scored a last minute winner in the home game against Aston Villa. Currently sidelined with a knee injury, the forward should regain starting opportunities on his return to fitness. The Upton Park crowd quietly refer to him as the new Jermaine Defoe.
The 18-year old centre back won admirers and rave reviews in the latter half of last season making nine appearances for Blackburn. Tipped as a future England centre-back, the player appeared calm and authoritative in their defence. Sam Allardyce has said his transition into a regular first team player will be carefully managed. Continued commanding performances from Jones may scupper that cautious approach.
The 6ft 2in London born striker has been praised by Toon legend Alan Shearer. The smartest move he made during his short managerial stint at St James’ Park was to reward the payer with a new long-term contract. The tall and pacy forward is a prodigious talent and may be thrust into the spotlight if Newcastle’s front line is not strengthened.
The midfielder earned the Young Player of the Year award at this boyhood club last season. Henderson scored his first PL goal at Manchester City last year and racked up many more assists as he was a revelation on Sunderland’s right wing. The energetic midfielder with an eye for a good cross has committed his future to the club, much to the delight of the Sunderland faithful.
At 23-years old the Manchester City winger who played the full 90 minutes for England this week may no longer be considered a young, up and coming prospect. Plucked from Middlesbrough in January, Johnson adapted seamlessly to life at big spending Manchester City. In keeping with the trend for wrong-footed wingers, the left-footer poses a goal threat on City’s right wing and commits full backs on their weaker foot. His curling goal against Sunderland last season was inspired and sublime.