It is now two years since an England under-17 side went to Liechtenstein and conquered Europe, winning all their games against Czech Republic, Greece, Turkey, France and favourites Spain on their way to victory. Standout performers included Sunderland’s Conor Wickham, Liverpool’s Andre Wisdom and Conor Coady, Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran and Everton dynamo Ross Barkley.
But which 5 should we keep an eye on this season?
George Thorne – West Brom
This summer has been iffy for George; he made an out of character error in England’s Under-19 title tilt as they were dumped out by Greece at the semi-final stage. However he is ultimately an extremely talented young player.
A rangy attacking midfield player he was sent out on loan to Portsmouth for the majority of last season and the school of hard knocks may have been in session on that one, as despite Pompey going down he impressed with his battling displays. He is expected to play a significant role at West Brom this season and I genuinely think he could be a surprise breakout performer in 2012-13.
Saido Berahino – West Brom
Another young Baggie and Saido should make an impact next season whether on loan or at The Hawthorns. He celebrated his 19th birthday on Saturday and the Burundi born striker has already accomplished much in his short life.
After fleeing his war-torn homeland and settling in Birmingham he signed a professional contract in 2011 with West Brom.
He has had 2 impactful loan spells at his tender age scoring 6 goals in 14 games for Northampton and 4 in 8 at Brentford as a 17 year old which speaks volumes about his potential. However his temperament may be questionable, as his loan deal was reportedly cut short at Griffin Park after a fallout with gaffer Uwe Rosler.
Luke Garbutt - Everton
This young Everton left back has had a brilliant pre-season and was an ever present in the Cheltenham side that very nearly clinched League Two promotion last season. With a cultured left foot Luke could be on the fringes of the first team this season and if the departure of Leighton Baines does occur may even push for greater heights.
Well known now as a highly talented frontman with a hard work ethic and keen eye for goal Benik will get plenty of opportunities to impress this season on loan at Bolton Wanderers. If he can keep the mishaps on Twitter down to a minimum and just focus on his football he might be able to replicate the form he showed on loan spells at Huddersfield and Reading at the Reebok.
Sam Johnstone – Manchester United
Now I am not saying he will usurp De Gea or Lindegaard as number one at Old Trafford but keep an eye on this young man’s progress. He impressed on loan at Scunthorpe last season and kept a certain Jack Butland out of the Under-17 side in 2010. If a loan deal materialises we may be witnessing the start of an outstanding career.
Will you be keeping your eyes on these or any other young players progress this season?
image: © geetarchurchy