Young Lions

By , Posted on 19th November 2011 - Posted in: News

The most startling feature of England’s back to back wins this week (against world champions Spain, and the always hard-to-beat Sweden) was the integration into the side of a raft of fresh faces. Far too often in the past players who have impressed at under-21 level for the national side have failed to step up to the senior squad in sufficient numbers. Many reasons have been cited for this depressing failure, not least among them being the influx of foreign stars to the Premier League, something which has necessarily limited the progress of emerging home grown talent, but whatever faults the England side may have at present, a lack of youthfulness is not one of them.

Fabio Capello has never been noted for a policy of ‘giving youth a chance’. In football parlance, such notions are not really an Italian trait and his pronouncement after last year’s World Cup that he would ‘freshen’ up the side were correspondingly met with some cynicism.

Indeed, many of Capello’s detractors will point to the current policy of throwing in the kids as one of necessity rather than design. Shorn of mainstream players like Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard, with doubts over the fitness of Rio Ferdinand, and a police investigation hanging over John Terry, his hand was somewhat forced. Even so, there’s nothing like a new generation of players to give a sense of reinvigoration.

Whatever the reason for their selections, it was heartening to see youngsters like Jack Rodwell (Everton), Kyle Walker (Spurs), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea), and Phil Jones (Man Utd) play key roles in two solid, if unspectacular victories. There was an old-timer in there too of course (relatively speaking, he is after all only 30), in the guise of Fulham’s Bobby Zamora, and his presence was a sobering reminder of where England’s deficiencies lie.

With Rooney suspended for the opening games of Euro 2012 it must be hoped that another young striking talent will come through before next summer to compliment Zamora, Sturridge, Darren Bent, and Manchester United’s excellent Danny Welbeck. We can but hope.

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