This past week, FA chairman Greg Dyke expressed his fears about the future of England’s young footballing talent. Premier League teams such as Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham have all spent tens of millions of pounds this summer. Yet they have predominantly bought non-English players. Dyke fears that this sort of trend will leave young English players neglected from a chance at first team domestic football, meaning they will not excel at an international level. However, this is not the case for all clubs. For example, Southampton.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino has made some surprising changes to Southampton’s first team this year – one of those changes being the first team selection of certain young players. The most surprising change is the introduction of Calum Chambers at the back. Whilst he is a midfielder by trade, he can fill in as a full back when required. The 18 year old was impressive against West Brom, making some excellent tackles and passing the ball well. Whilst Chambers is definitely a player for the future, I think he isn’t quite ready for the Premier League. He was being beaten too easily against Norwich, and Nathan Redmond passed by him to score against the Saints. I would play Nathaniel Clyne in his place for the time being. Clyne is another young English player who has the pace and strength to keep midfielders and attackers at bay.
The other big surprise is the omission of Jack Cork. The 24 year old was brilliant for the 2012 Olympics squad and had a superb 2012/13 Premier League season. Like Chambers, he is a midfielder who can be played at the back when needed. He has great vision and can deliver perfect passes and crosses. So far his only appearance of the season came in the 5-1 defeat of Barnsley in the Capital One Cup, which is unfortunate because he is a player who deserves a regular first team spot. But with Schneiderlin and Wanyama still fit, Cork will find it difficult to get into the team currently.
The two other future talents for England are Southampton defender Luke Shaw and midfielder James Ward-Prowse. Both played in the England U21’s victory over Moldova at the Madejski stadium last night, and both have had great starts to this season. Shaw played a key part in Southampton’s victory at West Brom, whilst Ward-Prowse has been stellar in his crossing and passing so far – grabbing the assist in the draw with Sunderland. Both grabbed their first U21 caps last night, with Shaw almost scoring with a 25 yard half-volley.
Players such as Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez also have the ability to play at international levels, but are yet to prove as such this season. Lallana did have a great game against Norwich, but one good game is not enough. Over time though, I’m sure they’ll improve and find their form.
Southampton, as apparent, have an incredible line-up of young English players. And with one of the best youth academies in the country, they are certain to churn out more of the same.