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Opinion: "Whisper it quietly, but England's future looks very bright"


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When the Under 17 World Cup came around last summer, the media ignorance at the beginning was at best appalling considering the quality and prestige of the team.

The small coverage was focused towards the Manchester pair: Phil Foden and Angel Gomes.

Foden has already caught the eye of Pep Guardiola at just the tender age of sixteen, whereas Gomes’ brief Premier League cameo debut at the end of last season had the Manchester United Twitter mob salivating at what they had seen.

Moreover, England’s key attacking threat was not Gomes as many expected. Besides a few eye-catching glimpses including one very impressive free kick, the youngster had to settle playing second fiddle to Phil Foden.

Foden assumed the traditional playmaker role with absolute aplomb, having an assurance and calmness beyond his years and operating as the essential fulcrum for a very impressive Young Lions outfit.

Although Foden wasn’t always getting the assists that his general play would have warranted, removing him from the team would have been a major blow for a side that relies so heavily on possession and quick incisive passing. His brace in the competition final was a deserved reward for his contributions.

Winning the Golden Ball for Best Player and being named Young Sports Personality of the Year capped off a stunning 2017 for the young man.

On the other side, Callum Hudson-Odoi is someone who many Chelsea fans could tell you about. At Youth level, Odoi looked special and he flourished with an equally outstanding performance in the final, creating three of the goals and actually assisting Foden twice.

Rather than the rivalry which has been problematic at senior level, there was absolute jubilation every time any player scored, especially in a game of that magnitude. But what exactly is so impressive about Hudson-Odoi?

For starters, his acceleration is frightening. A quick step, almost like a skip is all he needs to shoot away and suddenly very few players are capable of matching his pace. When you factor in his incredible ball control and precision with dribbling, not to mention his eye for flair, you already can see a top class wide-man taking shape.

But Hudson-Odoi is something more than just a winger. He can play up top as a false nine, or slot in neatly as a poacher behind the main striker. His finishes are precise, sharp and powerful.

In the long term, you suspect the England national team’s conundrum will be fitting Hudson-Odoi and Foden into the same midfield as they both thrive in the no. 10 role.

What is the next stage of development for these three incredible young talents? Already, even though they are all under eighteen, they look far too advanced for youth football. Every single one of them has made their Premier League debut and also appeared in at least one other competition for their club.

It seems to only be a matter of time before they are regulars in their respective first teams, but they do face the challenge of displacing star names like Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Alexis Sanchez who all occupy their preferred roles.

Whisper it quietly, but England’s future looks very bright. When you factor in the equally talented Ryan and Stephen Sessegnon, the leadership and drive of Morgan Gibbs-White and the goal-scoring prowess of Rhian Brewster, England could potentially have a core of a team to dominate for years to come.

Time will tell whether the players can make good on their chance and turn the U17 World Cup win into something more.

Image Credit - Wikipedia Commons

Image above shows Manchester United star Angel Gomes.

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