Eye On EPL

Young English stars hint at bright future for the Three Lions

Of all the storylines that have emerged from this English Premier League season, the rise of several young English talents is one that caught my eye.

Over the past weekend, it was nice to see Dele Alli (Tottenham), Tom Davies (Everton) and Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) score as their clubs won.

There are also others, including Harry Kane and Ross Barkley, who are in good form this season. The fact that these players are all under 23 certainly bodes well for England's national team, as they try to rebuild after a disastrous Euro 2016.

If anything, this season seems to mark the coming of age for this next generation of England players, many of whom look ready to take over from the likes of former stalwarts Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and John Terry.

A big reason for their rise is an increase in playing time. Davies, for instance, logged 97 minutes for Everton last season, but has already played 1,112 minutes this campaign.


Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has been an integral part of the Spurs' title challenge this season. The reigning Young Player of the Year looks set to play a key role for club and country for years to come. PHOTO: REUTERS

Rashford, too, has seen more playing time on the pitch. He has already played 1,361 minutes for the Red Devils, eclipsing last season's 862 minutes.

 

This is uncommon, especially since EPL clubs such as Arsenal and Chelsea have a history of fielding established foreign stars, ahead of budding home-grown talent.

It wasn't too long ago that former Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was nicknamed "Alain Pardieu" due to the number of French players he had signed for the Magpies. At one point, there were 11 Frenchmen in his squad.

Credit has to go to managers like Ronald Koeman and Mauricio Pochettino for trusting their youngsters, and for being able to manage them well. Believe me, handling young players is hard work.

Aside from learning the ropes, young players are prone to injuries as they get used to the intensity of senior football. There will also be the odd dip in form due to their inexperience, and it is important to ensure their confidence isn't battered.

Of this crop of players, Kane and Alli are the most impressive.

Kane is one of the most clinical finishers in the league - and that's not even his best quality. He is strong, quick, skilful, and to top it off, an unselfish player, making him very difficult to mark.

Alli, meanwhile, reminds me of former England international Paul Gascoigne. He is creative, technically excellent, creative, and yet strong on the ball. Unlike Gazza, though, the young midfielder is surprisingly mature and is able to make correct decisions most of the time.

Aside from learning the ropes, young players are prone to injuries as they get used to the intensity of senior football. There will also be the odd dip in form due to their inexperience, and it is important to ensure their confidence isn't battered.

Without the duo, the Spurs would definitely not be second in the table, seven points behind Chelsea with seven games left.

Does this mean England will do well on the international stage in years to come? I wouldn't go as far as to say that, given the unbelievable pressure that the media puts on the team. But the future is certainly bright.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2017, with the headline 'Young English stars hint at bright future for the Three Lions'. Print Edition | Subscribe