Just over two years ago England’s lion cubs beat Spain 5-2 in a thrilling Under 17s World Cup final and even though all involved are still teenagers it is hoped that by now the most promising of them are beginning the slow process of carving out successful professional careers.
But where are they? Our progress report reveals that while some are well on their way to the top others are lagging behind, struggling to get game-time at their respective employers.
One doesn’t even have a club to play for at all.
Together they were the best in their age-range in the world. Individually, however, they are on very different paths.
It was always going to be an enormous stretch for Anderson to break into Manchester City’s team of superstars, usurping Ederson or 123-cap international Claudio Bravo or the highly-rated Arijanet Muric even for an occasional EFL gig.
Just making it to the bench seemed an unlikely aspiration.
With that in mind, a move away from the Etihad last April made a lot of sense though his choice of destination – United Soccer League side Charlotte Independence – surprised.
Alas it has not worked out for the Barrow-born stopper and after making only ten appearances in America, Anderson, in possession of a World Cup winner’s medal, is presently looking around for a goal to keep.
The twin brother of Tottenham’s Ryan impressed at the tournament and though his development may be a relative tortoise to his sibling’s hare, there has still only been an upward trajectory since signing on professional terms with Fulham in the summer of 2017.
Sessegnon has played eight Championship games to date this season – five of them starts – and by virtue of his potential and performances has caught the eye of Spurs who wish to reunite him with his better-known twin.
On the international stage a recent call-up to the under 21s capped an immensely encouraging year for the versatile 19-year-old.
Had the highly-regarded centre-back not decided to leave Chelsea in 2018, it’s not unreasonable to suggest he might be enjoying some Premier League action right about now given the club’s transfer ban and Frank Lampard’s inherent trust in youth.
As it is the South Londoner did leave the Bridge after being there since the age of nine and headed to the sunny climes of Monaco.
Unable to make his mark there Panzo is presently on loan at Belgian side Cercle Bruges but if that hints at a backward step it is anything but.
At international level England know his worth granting him an under 21 bow last month while Monaco have clearly secured him for his long-term promise rather than any immediate impact.
Another Chelsea prodigy who has risen through the international ranks gaining under-21 recognition on four occasions. That aside Guehi’s progress since he captained the Three Lions to World Cup glory has largely taken place away from the public glare with a series of outstanding displays for Chelsea’s reserves last season, leaving him unfortunate not to be awarded their Academy Player of the Year.
The time is certainly coming for the centre-back who is equally at home down the right flank and presently he is on the cusp of breaking into Lampard’s first eleven. The only negative is accepting how far behind he has fallen to many of his peers.
Latibeaudiere’s cool and commanding performances at the back for England proved to be a pivotal factor in their success and led many to ponder the prospect of promotion into Manchester City’s first team squad.
Instead serious injury cruelly deprived him of a whole campaign and with the teen currently entrenched in a contract stand-off it appears his future does not reside in the North West especially with the supremely promising Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Eric Garcia further blocking his path.
A season-long loan spell with Twente in the Eredivisie then suited both parties and with his debut now under his belt the only way is up from here.
“I just need to be playing,” he said recently. He does.
George’s older brother Josh was himself a Chelsea wonderkid, blessed with twinkling feet and inhabiting the same role stationed between midfield and attack only for him it never quite worked out and he now threads his passes for Birmingham City in the Championship on the very few occasions he can get a game.
Does the same fate await George given that between him and stardom at the Bridge stands Mason Mount, Ross Barkley, Pedro, we could go on. It would appear so and bluntly with no loan move on the horizon or first team opportunity in sight there is a genuine risk of a career stall as McEachran plateaus for the under 23s.
Football is rife with examples of highly thought of young talents who stay around at under 23 level for too long and stagnate. Unfortunately Oakley-Boothe is the latest of them.
In the summer of 2017 he was called up to the first team squad by Mauricio Pochettino for Tottenham’s pre-season tour of the US. That was his time to shine and he duly did, just not enough unfortunately.
Now at 19 years of age he is already a ‘whatever happened to’ for Spurs fans who once believed he could be the next big thing. Football is a cruel, cruel business but there is still time for him to make an impact.
While the rest of football wring their hands in concern at Foden’s perceived lack of first team opportunities at Manchester City, the prodigal son himself is training with the likes of David Silva every day while racking up 1648 minutes for a side dominating the English game. He also happens to have two Premier League medals before the age of 20.
Pep Guardiola recently claimed he wouldn’t consider selling his local starlet for ‘€500m’ before adding: “Phil is City. When David Silva leaves, we know exactly who our new magician will be.”
Foden is just fine. Foden is still golden.
Contrasting Foden’s development there is a danger of Gibbs-White becoming a cautionary tale for youngsters being given too much game-time – and accompanying hype – too soon.
Having felt his way through the Championship during Wolves’ promotion winning season the 18-year-old was gifted 26 appearances last year and initially excelled among the big boys. A recent drop-off in form however is concerning the Wanderers fan-base.
Let’s hope it’s simply a case of taking a necessary step back before moving forward once again.
The second youngest of the World Cup winning group yet Hudson-Odoi has gone on to achieve far more significant progress than most.
A number of eye-catching displays in the Europa League with Chelsea saw the explosive winger called up to the England squad by Gareth Southgate at the turn of the year despite not having started a league game, a rare feat indeed.
His league showings soon after astounded one and all and acted as an uncommon cause for optimism in an otherwise turbulent season for the Blues until a ruptured Achilles brought everyone crashing down to earth.
Long held in the highest esteem on Merseyside after scorching his way through the youth ranks Brewster’s goal-scoring exploits and fleet-footed movement in the tournament earned him the Golden Boot while marking him down as a serious prospect. Had Liverpool unearthed yet another deadly finisher to follow in the prolific footsteps of Rush, Fowler and Owen?
That question remains up in the air largely due to a long-term injury that set the teenager’s development back a full twelve months but now back and in contention his path to the first team seems assured given how highly Jurgen Klopp rates him.
Now it’s just a matter of time.