If England want to be the global footballing power which they claim they are the team will need to start winning trophies at some point. The upcoming 2016 European Championship this summer in France is a perfect opportunity, and if England want any opportunity to win the Euros Roy Hodgson will have to refrain from picking players who have served their country well but are now past their prime and need to move over for the next generation of footballing talent—players like Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill, Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick.
The game has evolved and is now being dominated by athletes who physically overpower their opponents with either strength or speed. Many of Europe’s elite would have a field day against England’s older midfielders due to their physical advantage. While nobody wants to admit it, these players lack the pace and physical stamina which the new generation of football stars possess.
The Three Lions have some of the most promising young players in the whole world. At Tottenham alone, the trio of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier have led the side to second in the table. Roy Hodgson has a big decision as to which of these young guns should go to France. The young players who should get a chance are Harry Kane, Ross Barkley, Dele Alli and Jack Butland.
Harry Kane cannot stop scoring. Since bursting onto the scene last season he has scored a remarkable 58 goals for Spurs across all competitions and is currently the joint-top scorer in the Premier League. He has an incredible mind for the game, timing his runs to perfection as he prefers to stay right on the shoulder of the defender before darting into open space.
He has become very efficient with his movement off the ball as he only gets called for offside 0.8 times per game, which is impressive for a player who is only 22 years old. He always knows when to shoot and when to hold onto the ball until he can find space to unleash a powerful strike into the bottom corner. Many of England’s other options at striker are struggling with injury plagued seasons. Welbeck, Sturridge and Rooney have all missed substantial amounts of the season due to injury.
Ross Barkley is another who deserves to be included in the squad in the summer. Not only can he put pressure on the defence with his great dribbling, he is a threat when it comes to both scoring and creating. Barkley has scored eight league goals this season, behind only Newcastle’s Georginio Wijnaldum and Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez for most by a midfielder this season. Moreover, he has created much more for his team-mates than in the past, when he was criticised for being too individualistic.
Dele Alli has excelled both with the ball at his feet, and at when he is trying to win it back. He will be the one tp provide a backbone for Roy Hodgson’s squad. He will give them that identity of toughness as he is never one to shy away from a challenge and has a relentless work-rate. All of this is a bonus, as he plays much further up the field than most other players with a work-rate similar to his, and he deserves to be playing for England as much for his toughness as his artistry.
The final piece to the puzzle is Stoke’s goalkeeper, Jack Butland. Although he is only 28, Joe Hart has been England’s first-choice ‘keeper for what seems like an eternity. However, arguably the best keeper in the Premier League this season has been Jack Butland. The 6’4 23-year-old has had a good season, managing 10 clean sheets in 29 appearances for Stoke.
Butland has saved an impressive 98 shot attempts, including a stunning nine-save performance against West Ham where his team managed to steal a draw. He has made 39 more saves than his Manchester City compatriot, and his shot-stopping ability will be crucial to his country in a short-term tournament which relies on players performing at their best the whole way through.