Winners and Losers: England’s young stars

Date published: Wednesday 14th March 2018 8:52

In 2017, Daniel Storey bored and disturbed us in equal measures with his excitement for England’s young players. Our Under-17s and Under-20s won the World Cup, while the Under-19s won the European Championship.

At a time when youth development is in the news, we catch up with how England’s final heroes are getting on. Because we’re nothing other than predictable, we stuck the lot into list of winners and losers. More winners than losers!



Ryan Sessegnon (U-19)
Having started 17 Championship matches for Fulham last season at the age of 16, Sessegnon’s extraordinary development continues apace. No player has managed more league minutes for the Cottagers this season, but it’s Sessegnon’s 14 league goals that have made him a target for Tottenham and Liverpool. There’s even (probably optimistic) talk of a senior England call-up.


Jonjoe Kenny (U-20)
Everton might have had a shambolic season, but on a personal note Kenny has enjoyed significant progress. Before 2017/18, Kenny had never started a league game above League One level. Now he’s played over 1,500 Premier League minutes and started three European matches against Apollon, Lyon and Atalanta.


Lewis Cook (U-20)
Cook was kept on the fringes of Bournemouth’s first team in 2016/17, largely thanks to the loan of Jack Wilshere, but has already started 18 Premier League games this season. All but four of those have come since the beginning of December, as Cook has proved to Eddie Howe that he merits patience and trust. Links to Liverpool have inevitably followed.


Dominic Calvert-Lewin (U-20)
Before this season, Calvert-Lewin had started five Premier League games, three League One games, seven League Two games and five matches for Stalybridge Celtic in the National League North. That makes 20 in total across three seasons, but this season Calvert-Lewin has started 17 Premier League games. Everton failing to buy a striker last summer really bloody helped.


Ben Brereton (U-19)
Making excellent strides at Nottingham Forest, most notably when bullying Arsenal’s central defenders in the 4-2 FA Cup win at the City Ground. Brereton has usurped Daryl Murphy as Forest’s first-choice centre-forward, no mean feat given their spending in January.


Fikayo Tomori (U-20)
Left Stamford Bridge in August to join Hull City on a season-long deal, and has started 20 matches in the second tier despite a change of manager halfway through the season. Having earned promotion with Brighton last season, the experience will be vital.


Tashan Oakley-Boothe (U-17)
Actual progress at an elite Premier League club, which demonstrates the advantage of being a young player at Tottenham Hotspur. Oakley-Boothe played in the International Champions Cup against Paris Saint-Germain, but made his competitive debut for the first team against Barnsley in the EFL Cup. It was only as a late substitute, but still.


Phil Foden (U-17)
Now we’re bloody talking. Pep Guardiola promised that he would give Foden minutes this season, and Guardiola has stayed true to his word. The midfielder is still 17 but has made three short Premier League appearances, played in two EFL Cup games and started twice in the Champions League. Now to keep knocking on the door.


Callum Hudson-Odoi (U-17)
Remember the name. Hudson-Odoi is still 17, and yet has done what so many Chelsea youth products have failed to do. On 31 January, the forward made his Premier League debut against Bournemouth. “I’ve grown up here since I was eight years old and I progressed very well. I’m happy to make my debut today.” Not a quote you hear often enough at Stamford Bridge.


Morgan Gibbs-White (U-17)
A success story. The arrival of Jorge Mendes’ barmy army at Wolves haven’t stopped Gibbs-White getting minutes. He has played in six Championship fixtures and two FA Cup games, but the best moment was surely signing a new four-and-a-half year contract at Molineux in January. They’re excited about him.


Jay Da Silva (U-19)
Now on the Chelsea loan train, having joined Charlton in December 2016 and having that deal extended for the whole of this season after signing a new contract at Stamford Bridge. Da Silva has started 31 League One games and impressed throughout at left-back.


Nya Kirby (U-17)
Joined Crystal Palace in February 2017 having been left Tottenham following an attempt from Chelsea to poach him, and it has worked out very nicely indeed. Named in the Premier League squad against his former club last month due to Palace’s injury crisis, the big test comes when key players come back. A Football League loan next season, perhaps?


George McEachran (U-17)
Big things are expected of McEachran, who has so far managed to avoid being loaned out by Chelsea. He has played once for the Under-23 team this season, with the majority of his game time coming at Under-18 level.


Steven Sessegnon (U-17)
The younger brother of sudden superstar Ryan, Steven is yet to make his Football League debut for Fulham. Still, he has made four match-day squads in the Championship and played in all 180 minutes of the club’s EFL Cup campaign.


Mason Mount (U-19)
Somehow, we have reached this far on our list without mentioning Vitesse Arnhem, but Mount was sent to the Eredivisie after impressing for Chelsea’s youth team last season. He has flourished in Netherlands, playing in 23 league games and scoring seven goals. Don’t be surprised to see the deal extended this summer.


Tayo Edun (U-19)
Has not had the same impact as his Fulham and England Under-19 teammate, but Edun has played two Championship games in midfield this season, including a start in the 1-1 home draw against Derby in November. Should Fulham fail to gain promotion, he can hope for more action next season.


Josh Da Silva (U-19)
Perhaps it’s better for a young Arsenal player to avoid the calamity of this season as much as possible. Da Silva has managed 59 minutes across three league games, maning he has won every match he’s played this season. Granit Xhaka cannot say the same.


Kyle Walker-Peters (U-20)
The year is 2021. Having signed Kyle Walker in the summer of 2017 and Kyle Walker-Peters in 2019, Manchester City are close to announcing the signing of Kyle Walker-Peters-Roberts. The year is 2018, and Walker-Peters has played in two Premier League games this season and also appeared in every other competition for Spurs.


Sheyi Ojo (U-20)
Loaned out to Fulham, an excellent environment for young players, so it’s a sign of the Liverpool winger’s ambition that he has stated his desire to play more football despite starting 17 Championship matches after injury. Promotion to the Premier League would make for a marvellous season.


Ainsley Maitland-Niles (U-20)
One of the few positives in Arsenal’s season, Maitland-Niles has played nine Premier League games since mid-December. His record is also pretty exceptional: Played 10, Won 5, Drawn 4, Lost 1. Dropped back out of the team in February, but started against Watford last weekend. With the Europa League becoming the priority, he should expect to get more minutes.


Ademola Lookman (U-20)
A young man who chose to take control of his future by moving to RB Leipzig in January rather than pursue a Championship loan move or accept his mediocre fate under Sam Allardyce’s wing. Scored the winner on his Bundesliga debut and, should Allardyce leave this summer, will back himself to make the grade back at Goodison next season.


Josh Onomah (U-20)
The general rule is that Mauricio Pochettino only loans out the players that he doesn’t think will make the grade at Tottenham, but Onomah might be the exception. He’s played 28 Championship games for Aston Villa and scored four goals, although he has suffered a recent lapse of form and was sarcastically cheered after being substituted against Sheffield Wednesday. At 20, that seems pretty harsh.


Dujon Sterling (U-19)
Made Chelsea’s bench for the 4-0 wins away to Brighton and Qarabag, but Sterling’s only first-team minutes have come in the domestic cup competitions against Norwich and Nottingham Forest. Only managed 15 minutes in total, but he is still only 18.


Lukas Nmecha (U-19)
Promoted to Manchester City’s first-team squad at the beginning of February after the club missed out on signing Riyad Mahrez. That put him on the bench for the home game against Leicester City, but the 32 minutes against the same opponents in the EFL Cup are the only competitive minutes he has played this season.



Marcus Edwards (U-19)
I’m desperately trying to remain positive about one of the superstars of England’s Under-19 squad, but there’s no doubt that Edwards has stalled this season. Loaned by Tottenham to Norwich City in the Championship, but has already been publicly criticised by Daniel Farke and still hasn’t played a minute in canary yellow.


Andre Dozzell (U-19)
Suffered horrific luck in August, when he was stretchered off the field in Ipswich Town’s first home game of the season and was subsequently ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn cruciate ligament.


Rhian Brewster (U-17)
A ludicrous list of attacking players to get past if he wants to make the grade at Liverpool, Brewster will surely have to leave on loan to get some experience. Has not made a first-team match-day squad this season, despite being prolific at Under-23 level.


Easah Suliman (U-19)
The Aston Villa full-back joined League Two side Grimsby Town on loan in January after failing to get near the first team at Villa, but has played in only one league game so far. Suliman was substituted after 53 minutes of a home game against Port Vale.


Darnell Johnson (U-19)
No loan move for Johnson, who has remained at Leicester City and thus struggled for minutes above age-group level. A League One loan would surely be the best option for club and player. Perhaps Burton Albion if they go down?


Freddie Woodman (U-20)
No struggling Premier League club collects goalkeepers quite like Newcastle, who have Rob Elliot, Karl Darlow and Matz Sels on their books and still recruited Martin Dubravka in January. That gave Woodman no choice but to push for a loan move. He joined Aberdeen in January and has played four SPL games since.


Jake Clarke-Salter (U-20)
Linked with a move to Norwich at the start of the season, but stayed at Chelsea for the first half of the season and instead joined Sunderland in January. Has since started seven Championship games, drawing two and losing five. We’ll call that a baptism of fire.


Dominic Solanke (U-20)
Has certainly played more at Liverpool than he would have done at Chelsea, but you do have to question the logic – if not the optimism – in swapping one elite club for another in the hunt for first-team football. Seventeen Premier League appearances is an excellent return, but each one has lasted 22 minutes on average. He’s yet to score a competitive goal for the club.


Kieran Dowell (U-20)
Impressed during the first half of the season at Nottingham Forest on loan from Everton, but has lost his place in the team after the arrival of Lee Tomlin. The suspicion is that Dowell is still a little lightweight, and another loan move next season may well be the right call.


Angel Gomes (U-17)
Played two minutes in the Premier League in 2016/17, but Gomes is yet to make a matchday squad this season. Two minutes against Yeovil Town in the FA Cup is the sum total of the competitive minutes. He must seek for more next season, and that includes a loan away from Old Trafford.


Conor Gallagher (U-17)
Has been at Chelsea since the age of six, but limited to Under-18 football at club level this season. The next test in the production line comes when trying to make the leap to the Under-23 squad. Then the loan system. That’s how this works.


Isaac Buckley-Ricketts (U-19)
Loaned out for the first half of the season to FC Twente in the Eredivisie. That brought only six league appearances (and no starts), so City cancelled the deal and sent him to Oxford United for the remainder of the season. He’s already started seven times in League One.


Aaron Ramsdale (U-19)
The Bournemouth goalkeeper joined from Sheffield United in January 2017, but was loaned out this January to League Two Chesterfield. Scored a calamitous own goal on his debut in a 4-0 defeat at Accrington, but has since steadied that form.


Curtis Anderson (U-17)
The Manchester City goalkeeper was a penalty shootout hero against Japan, but has understandably found first-team minutes impossible to come by. He has managed one appearance in the UEFA Youth League and one in Premier League 2 for the Under-23s against Liverpool. Patience will be a virtue.


Marc Guéhi (U-17)
Another Chelsea boy, and another who has had to settle for Under-18 football this season. FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League appearances help, but Guehi has not even made a match-day squad in the Premier League 2 competition.


Jonathan Panzo (U-17)
See Guehi, Marc. An almost identical record. Chelsea have an awful lot of England youth players.


Joel Latibeaudiere (U-17)
England’s Under-17 World Cup captain and Manchester City player, defensive injuries haven’t brought him any closer to the first-team squad. Fourteen Premier League 2 games and a squad place against Rotherham United in the EFL Trophy is as good as it has got.


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