So the World Cup is over and all the talk is of England’s bright young things pushing for a senior call up, but who are these youngsters who’ve scooped so many major titles in the last year- here’s part 1 of our guide to the top 30 prospects under the age of 23 from number 30-16.
30. Freddie Woodman (Age 21 Newcastle)
The Golden Glove at the Under 20 World Cup where he saved a penalty in the final having previously impressed at the 2014 Under 17 European Championships. But Woodman has struggled to find a regular start at club level, he was loaned to Aberdeen in January and made 8 appearances but really needs a season long spell to gain experience.
First Team Prospects- Newcastle aren’t exactly stacked in goal but giving Woodman the gloves would seem a huge gamble. The more likely move is a season long loan in either the SPL or English Championship.
29. Chris Willock (20 Benfica)
The former Arsenal prodigy signed a five-year deal with Benfica last summer. The wide forward made 30 appearances for Benfica B last term.
First Team Prospects- Benfica are in the Champions League having finished 2nd in Portugal last season. Willock won’t get an immediate start but Portugal’s Primiera Liga has a proven track record for developing young talent so Willock may not be waiting too long for chance.
28. Adam Armstrong (21 Newcastle)
Another prospect who went from 2014 Under 17 to World Under triumph in 2017 the Newcastle forward then had an excellent tournament in Toulon this summer as he graduated to the Under 21s winning his third England medal.
First Team Prospects- Armstrong spent the second half of last season on loan with Blackburn where he notched 9 goals from 21 games as Rovers won promotion back to the Championship. Another loan in next season’s Championship seems likely.
27. Eddie Nketiah (19 Arsenal)
This promising striker proved England’s best player at this summer’s Toulon Tournament providing creativity and a goal threat. For Arsenal he made a series of appearances and marked his debut in the EFL Cup with 2 quickfire goals to steer Arsenal past Norwich.
First Team Prospects- It’s still early days for Nketiah who did take his first steps on senior football last season. But with Uni Emery making changes it’s unclear if Nketiah will stay at the Emirates or spend a year on loan.
26. Rhian Brewster (18 Liverpool)
Brewster shot to fame in the Under 17s World Cup by scoring a stunning hat-trick against Brazil in the semi final win over Brazil. He went on to win the Golden Boot with 8 goals in the tournament and holds a staggering record of 20 goals in 22 England Under 17 games.
First Team Prospects- Liverpool have signed Brewster to a 5 year deal after fending off interest from Borussia Monchengladbach. He’ll likely remain in Liverpool’s academy side for now with a senior debut likely in next seasons EFL Cup.
25. Josh Onomah (21 Tottenham)
Another member of England’s Under 20 World Cup winning squad, Onomah spent last season playing on the wing at Aston Villa, making 30 Championship appearances and notched a goal against Bristol City (one of 4 last season)
First Team Prospects- Has the likes of Son, Eriksen, Lamela & Moura for competition but Pochettino has proved a master at developing young talent. After a year on loan it looks like Onomah will stay with Tottenham with the domestic cups offering the likliest route to the first team.
24. Ronaldo Viera (19 Leeds)
Nominative determinism guarantees this boy’s future. Viera made his Leeds debut 2 years ago and has racked up 68 games as a defensive midfielder. But it’s in Toulon where he’s made an impression for England- scoring the decisive penalty in the 2017 Final shoot out and then scoring the goal of the tournament in 2018.
First Team Prospects- After signing a long-term deal last summer Viera looks set to be a key figure at Elland Road under the respected Marcelo Bielsa. A good season could see him force his way into England’s Under 21 squad for Euro 2019.
23. Ashley Maitland-Niles (20 Arsenal)
A junior member of the Under 20 World Cup winning squad Maitland-Niles found his way into Arsenal’s first team last season able to play as a fullback, midfielder or winger.
First Team Prospects- It’s a whole new ballgame at Arsenal but Emery seems likely to give the youngsters a chance as he forges a new team, Maitland-Niles should be looking to press his claims beyond the Europa League & EFL Cup.
22. Fikayo Tomori (20 Chelsea)
The star centre-back in the Under 20 World Cup, Canadian born Tomori spent last season impressing during a loan spell with Hull City.
First Team Prospects- It’s Chelsea so another loan deal looks likely probably with a low end Premier League side. But now aged 20 Tomori has to be thinking of going on loan with the view to a permanent move.
21. Rob Holding (22 Arsenal)
Holding is now 22 and out of England’s youth set up. Holding played the entire 2017 FA Cup Final on the right of Arsenal’s back 3 but struggled in Arsenal’s wobbly defence last season.
First Team Prospects- It’s do or die time for Holding after 2 seasons of fluctuating fortunes at Arsenal. Emery will need to construct and coach a better defence than Wenger left and Holding has the potential to be a key player in that but if can’t find consistency the Carl Jenkinson trap door could open before him.
20. Ben Chilwell (21 Leicester)
The Leicester left back competed seriously with Christian Fuchs for a first team place last season and continued to develop with the Under 21’s after being part of Aidy Boothroyd’s 2017 side that made the semi-finals.
First Team Prospects- Chilwell is excellent going forward but still has some learning to do in defence. But with Fuchs now aged 32 the balance is tipping in Chilwell’s favour and he should get a regular start next term.
19. Demarai Gray (22 Leicester)
Gray was probably the happiest man in Leicester when Riyad Mahrez was sold. A similar style player with pace, trickery and a shot Gary was never going to get a regular start when the 2016 Footballer of the Year was still in town. Now he has a big opportunity to shine.
First Team Prospects- It’s make or break time for Gary who’s shown promise but flattered to deceive at Leicester. Mahrez’s departure opens the door for him but he walking through it isn’t guaranteed.
18. Jack Grealish (22 Aston Villa)
No player on this list has been around longer or had more ups than Grealish. He first came to prominence 4 seasons ago at Villa and his quick feet and impish talent helped Villa to the 2015 FA Cup Final. But then Villa boss Remi Garde dumped him back to the junior side due to Grealish’s love of clubbing and unprofessional attitude. Last season under Steve Bruce he made up for lost time with the best season of his career to date.
First Team Prospects- With Villa in financial turmoil it seems Grealish will be returning to the Premier League after all. But he must choose his destination carefully having worked so hard to get back to prominence.
17. Tammy Abraham (20 Chelsea)
The tall powerful centre forward made his mark 2 seasons ago with 23 goals whilst on loan to Championship side Bristol City. He made a bright start to last season with Premier League Swansea and made his England debut last November against Germany. But he lost his way as Swansea’s season went pear-shaped. He’s now back at parent club Chelsea.
First Team Prospects- After 2 loan spells it feels like Abraham’s time to move on from Chelsea. With Olivier Giroud Chelsea’s target man and the likelihood of Gonzalo Higuain replacing Alvaro Morata starting upfront it’s difficult to see Abraham getting many first team chances and a move to a Championship side with serious promotion ambitions may be the best move.
16. James Maddison (21 Leicester)
£24 million! That’s what Leicester just paid Norwich for this talented young playmaker. Maddison surprisingly doesn’t have much of an England track record with just 3 Under 21 caps but excelled in the Championship last season.
First Team Prospects- Leicester don’t spent £24million to leave a player on the bench, Maddison will be central to Leicester boss Claude Puyol next term as The Foxes look to build a new midfield after the departure of title winner Mahrez, Drinkwater & Kante.
Football fan, follower of England, Leeds and will watch any game possible (between raising twins!)