Premier League homegrown XI with a twist features three Under-21 champions with Trent in midfield

Jason Soutar
Premier League Homegrown XI features Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford.
Our Premier League Homegrown XI features Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford.

England Under-21s winning the European Championship got us thinking about the best homegrown players in the Premier League. It then got us thinking about the best possible starting XI using players who have only played Premier League football for their Academy club.

To make it more interesting, we are not including players who have had more than one loan spell, so no Harry Kane. We have also made our Homegrown Premier League XI a maximum of one per club.


GK: Joe Whitworth (Crystal Palace)
As you are now painfully aware, goalkeeper options are pretty scarce. Dean Henderson joined Manchester United at the age of 14 and would have been the natural choice, if not for a mammoth six loan stints elsewhere. So hello there Joe Whitworth.

The 19-year-old has only made two appearances for Crystal Palace’s first team, but on his debut – against Brighton of all teams – he became the club’s youngest goalkeeper to ever play in the Premier League and the fifth-youngest in all competitions.

A loan move could now be on the cards for Whitworth, who will hope to follow in the footsteps of Burnley-bound James Trafford, who does not get in this team as he has zero Premier League experience.


RCB: Reece James (Chelsea)
Our ‘interesting’ formation features three defenders, two of which are predominantly right-backs. It will all be fine; they have no upcoming fixtures. And Reece James – the best of England’s 200 right-back options when fit – will do the job of two men.

Injuries are the only thing holding James back. There is no doubt about his ability; he is excellent going forward and solid defensively, which is what you need from a modern full-back. Able to play as a right-sided central defender, right-back and right-wing-back, James is the best Chelsea youth product since John Terry.



CB: Lewis Dunk (Brighton)
Lewis Dunk obviously captains this side. He is the oldest by quite some margin and is Brighton’s skipper with all the leadership qualities required to take this young team under his wing like a real-life Splinter.

Dunk was actually with Wimbledon before they liquidated, meaning he was free to join the Seagulls at the age of 11. He has looked better every single season and helped guide his team into Europe for the very first time after finishing sixth in the Premier League last season. His and Brighton’s rise really go hand in hand. Without Brighton, Dunk would not be the player he is now and without Dunk, the south coast club would still be pretty good, but they wouldn’t be as good.


LCB: Ben Johnson (West Ham)
West Ham defender Ben Johnson is the first in this team who was part of England’s Under-21 European Championship success this summer. He featured in the Young Lions’ opening four games but was an unused substitute in the final against Spain.

Johnson – who is Ledley King’s cousin – has played 55 times in the Premier League and also featured in six matches as West Ham won the Europa Conference League. It’s been a decent month or so for the 23-year-old.

READ MORE: Trafford creates history as England Under-21s show Southgate how to become European champions


DM: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Here is another one of those 200 right-backs and we have picked him in a team with no right-backs. Ornery sods.

It only took Jurgen Klopp four years, but he has decided to utilise the immensely talented Englishman in a more central role. Alexander-Arnold can still be seen in his natural position on any Liverpool teamsheet and when defending on the pitch, but in possession, he slots nicely into a defensive midfield role where he can pull more strings.

This positional alteration has done his international career the world of good too. Gareth Southgate has always been a bit reluctant to call up Trent when he has all of his top right-backs available, but this tactical tweak means the England boss has a more compelling reason to make the Liverpool star a regular in his squad. Southgate played the 24-year-old in midfield in both Euro 2024 qualifiers last month, albeit against Malta and North Macedonia.


DM: Oliver Skipp (Tottenham)
Tottenham midfielder Oliver Skipp featured in all six of England U21s’ European Championship encounters, getting 29 minutes in the final. The 22-year-old has been a Tottenham player since 2008 and has one goal in 56 Premier League appearances for the north Londoners, who he left to spend 2020/21 on loan with Norwich City in the Championship.

Sean Longstaff could have been an option here if not for two loans with Kilmarnock and Blackpool. He must be gutted.


CM: Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa)
The better and older brother to Aaron, Jacob Ramsey is an outstanding talent destined for big things in Our League. If it wasn’t for Aston Villa’s insane upwards trajectory, we would say Ramsey is bound to join a European giant, but why not stay at Villa Park and become a one-club man?

Ramsey has been a Villan since the age of six and is destined for an England call-up after playing a key role in the Young Lions’ Euro 2023 success.

READ MORE: Ranking England U21s by chance of going to Euro 2024: Chelsea pair in top five


AM: Phil Foden (Manchester City)
The Stockport Iniesta has played for England at every level and has not even spent a second on loan elsewhere. Phillip Walter Foden has been with Manchester City since he was four. FOUR!

What an incredible talent this young man is. Foden’s market value is currently €110million (£94.3m) having scored 60 goals and notched 41 assists in 217 appearances for City. Not bad for someone who agreed to sit on the bench for six years when he penned a new contract in 2018.


RW: Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
Arsenal’s Starboy Bukayo Saka is a player on the same level as Foden, if not ever so slightly better. He quickly became the Gunners’ finest player at the age of 18 when Mikel Arteta’s side were absolutely horrendous, but a few years on he remains vitally important in a very good Arsenal side.

Saka has been at Arsenal since he was seven and is one of the current crop of players to graduate from the Hale End Academy, which has one hell of a record. It is England’s La Masia if you will.

Arsenal to keep Saka


ST: Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
No Harry Kane due to the Terms & Conditions of this XI so Marcus Rashford MBE leads the line. Like Foden and Saka, the 25-year-old has never spent any time on loan elsewhere, but his road to the top has been a little less smooth.

He quite literally Burst Onto The Scene when given an opportunity under Louis van Gaal in February 2016. Eighteen at the time, Rashford scored twice in the Europa League against FC Midtjylland – his senior debut for Manchester United – three days before another double, this time against Arsenal in the Premier League.

It has not all been plain sailing for Rashford; he has had a few difficult seasons but is now loving life again under Erik ten Hag. Which makes us very happy indeed.


LW: Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest)
The Welsh winger is the second Johnson in this team and the only non-English player. His father, David, used to play for Forest but his presence at the City Ground is not down to nepotism. The 22-year-old was born in Nottingham and joined their academy at the age of eight, making his first-team debut in August 2019 when he was 18.

Eligible to play for Wales, England or Jamaica, Johnson played for the Young Lions at two youth levels before switching to Wales’ U19s and then choosing to represent their senior team.

A loan spell at Lincoln City for the 20/21 campaign did Johnson’s development the world of good and he is now one of Forest’s most important players as he looks to surpass what his old man did for the club.