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Look to the future

Josh McEachran: So young it makes you weep

Look to the future

Albrighton: Has impressed all season

Look to the future

Wickham: A star on the rise

Look to the future

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Jack Wilshere, Arsenal

After impressing at the back end of last season on loan at Bolton it was expected the precociously talented midfielder would spend further time away from the Emirates this term to further his football education. Arsene Wenger, the grand master of pitching young players into his side at just the right time, had other ideas though and has used Wilshere in each of Arsenal's games to date. Wilshere, thank the Lord, is a player who loves the ball at his feet and has both the confidence and vision to pick the right pass. Add to that an ability to surge past his man in the final third and an eye for goal, and we might just have the brightest English talent since Wayne Rooney broke onto the scene. Wenger certainly agrees: "Wilshere reminds me a little bit of Rooney . . . in his belief, in his positive attitude to go forward." Wilshere won his first cap against Hungary earlier this year.

Marc Albrighton, Aston Villa

No-one has benefitted from Kevin MacDonald's interim spell as Aston Villa boss as much as Albrighton. MacDonald knew all about the 20-year-old's ability having managed him while reserve team manager and upon his own promotion, wasted little time in pitching him straight into first-team action. Albrighton has been a revelation so far with his fleet footed forays - he's more a dribbler than speed merchant - matched by an infectious work rate. Villa fans, who have long-since known of his potential via a series of cameos last season, have taken him instantly to their hearts. Let's just hope Gerard Houllier gives him similar opportunities to impress and develop.

Jack Rodwell, Everton

Along with Wilshere it is perhaps Rodwell who is seen as the shining light of young English talent. A Rolls Royce of a footballer who glides across the field, Rodwell could be an England regular for years to come if he continues to develop and becomes the player David Moyes anticipates. An injury at just the wrong time has curtailed his international ambitions for now but Fabio Capello is known to be a fan and it can only be a matter of time before he wins his first cap. The only grey area with regards Rodwell's career is whether his best position is as a central midfielder or ball-playing centre-half. The good news is he looks class in both roles.

Connor Wickham, Ipswich

They haven't been this excited in Ipswich since Kieron Dyer was dancing through Championship defences back in 1996. At just 17 Wickham weighs in at 14 stone and is still growing at 6ft 3in. With a deft touch to match a fearsome physique it's no surprise half the Premier League are keen to lure him from Portman Road. North London giants Tottenham and Arsenal were thought to head the chase in January but Town boss Roy Keane resisted all bids on the grounds he'd be 'lynched' otherwise. At Under 17 level he has scored nine times in 13 appearances and it is expected he will soon be fast-tracked to the U21 ranks. Few would bet against him one day representing the senior side.

Phil Jones, Blackburn

While there are those that would argue English football is hardly lacking when it comes to producing no-nonsense centre-halves, Jones stands out as a player to keep an eye on. Since breaking into Rovers' ranks last season Jones has earned comparisons with John Terry, with his boss Sam Allardyce claiming a big future awaits the 19-year-old. Jones has occupied a defensive midfield role for much of this season as Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen are first choices at the heart of Blackburn's defence. An ability to play in a variety of roles will only see his stock grow further but it is at centre-half where he'll end up.

Jordan Henderson, Sunderland

Only this weekend Steve Bruce spoke of his surprise that Henderson's emergence as a midfielder of real promise has largely gone unheralded by the national press. It's difficult to argue with the Sunderland chief's view that had the 20-year-old been doing a similar job for a more fashionable club he would have been spoken about in terms of a possible senior call-up. At Under 21 level he has shone in recent Euro qualifiers, with his rangy runs from deep catching the eye. A clever passer who is not afraid to put his foot in either, Henderson has achieved what few players of his age can claim having established himself as a regular in the Premier League.

Ravel Morrison, Manchester United

A player highly regarded in the corridors of power at Old Trafford, Morrison is expected to be involved in United's Carling Cup campaign this season despite his tender years. Morrison comes from Longsight, the tough part of South Manchester from which Wes Brown hails, so it's unlikely the physical aspect of Premier League football will daunt him. Capable of playing in midfield, on the left wing or as a central striker the powerful 17-year-old has shown lightning pace and power aplenty in United's youth team over the past couple of years. Morrison has drawn comparisons with Ryan Giggs in the past and while he's got some way to go before being mentioned in the same breath as the United legend, it might not be too long before he's making a name for himself.

Ross Barkley, Everton

Few clubs have proved as adept at nurturing young talent in recent years as Everton and it is expected Ross Barkley could be the next off the conveyor belt at Goodison. Barkley, a box-to-box midfield player, has represented his country at U17 level, while for the U16s he caught the eye in scoring against Northern Ireland when he was just 14. Barkley made the bench in Saturday's defeat to Newcastle and should Everton continue to stall he might just get his debut in the coming weeks. FA director of football Trevor Brooking is a big fan of a player he is ready to fast track into the U19s. In Jack Rodwell, Wavertree-born Barkley has the ideal role model and if he keeps progressing at the same rate, the pair could run the Toffees' engine room for years to come. Left-back Luke Garbutt, who Everton signed from Leeds, is another to keep an eye on.

Nick Powell, Crewe

Such are the scouting networks at Premier League clubs it is rare a young talent goes undetected but there is the odd gem who falls through the net into the Football League. This could certainly be the case with Nick Powell at Crewe. Gresty Road is famed for being a breeding ground for footballers that play the game in the right way and in Powell, they feel confident they've unearthed another of real promise. Arsene Wenger seems to agree, with Arsenal having been credited with holding a long-term interest in a forward who has already played in Crewe's first team despite being just 16. Powell was outstanding for England's U17s in the summer, when he scored goals against both Australia and Portugal. Dario Gradi, who insists he has no intention of selling his academy graduate, recently said: "Nick had a terrific time with England. Sir Trevor Brooking has been talking about him as a future prospect. But I have just got to be careful with him and make sure his career isn't prematurely ended by some oaf defender whacking him."

Josh McEachran, Chelsea

Armed with a wonderfully crafted left foot McEachran is one of a number of highly-rated young players at Stamford Bridge who could be given their head in the Carling Cup this season. Although slight in build he is technically very gifted and equally at home in the centre of the field or on the left. After shining in pre-season McEachran made his competitive first-team debut against MSK Zilina in the opening game of the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League, thus becoming the first player to play in the competition who was born after its inception in 1992. As a key member of the England U17 side that won the European Championship, this blossoming starlet might have some of Chelsea's superstars looking nervously over their shoulders in the next couple of years.

Have we picked ten for the top or have we missed your club's rising star? Let us know your suggestions for investigation by filling in the feedback form below...

Comments (36)

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Steven Dodds says...

Ryan Sully, do you know anything? Adam Johnson is injured just now which is why he isn't being selected and he is over 20 and the title says players 20 or UNDER and tbh Jack Wilshere is better than Johnson

Posted 12:49 10th March 2011

Ryan Sully (Manchester United fan) says...

um Helllo Adam Johnson is as good as jack wilshire yes he is 23 but he is now an england regular in my opinion and roberto mancini is a joke for not putting him in on a regular basis. Also ravell morrison and the keane twins are the future at utd.

Posted 13:55 13th November 2010

Ian Pilkington (Burnley fan) says...

John Cofie, wish we could've held onto him!

Posted 10:51 3rd November 2010

Josh Mccartan (Manchester United fan) says...

I think, and being a United man, that Arsenal are the future of England. United dont really have a class of '92 quality coming through, and if they did, Fergie wouldnt play them. But arsenal, the real deal there

Posted 13:40 2nd November 2010

Steve Mardlin says...

Josh McEachran has only played a limited part in the league so far but he has looked really good so far. He looks nippy on and off the ball, and links play up well. Although he is one of the junior members of the team, this has not stopped him being hungry for the ball, and he certainly has not looked out of his depth. Fantastic to see a young English playing coming through the ranks.

Posted 17:00 27th October 2010

Brad Oldfield (Wolverhampton Wanderers fan) says...

From Wolves, we have some good talent on the up. David Davies, Danny Batth, Aaron McCarey, Ashley Hemmings etc. Should be good in a few years, looking forward to seeing Danny Batth though!

Posted 19:04 14th October 2010

Stevie Lfc g says...

Where is the name of JONJO SHELVEY,the best player of England U-19''''s?

Posted 03:37 12th October 2010

Robert Hall says...

Aston villa have the best youth set-up in England at the mo....youngsters such as young barry bannan, gary gardener (younger brother off craig & craig himself has said his brothers better than him. albrighton also, next beckham? has a natural freshness about him.

Posted 23:43 11th October 2010

Steven Stokes (Liverpool fan) says...

well the best young talent at the mo is marc albrighton with his potential and lethal crossing, second in my opinion is Martin kelly the way he played for liverpool in the europa he''s a boss young player how can play all over the defence if asked, third is victor moses loads of pace and can score goals

Posted 11:48 1st October 2010

Kyle Morley says...

Jones, without a doubt is going to be a star. We have had reasonable success with our academy over the years and nobody has been as excited about a player since Duff came through. Jones has a decent build, reads the game superbly for someone of his age, strong in the tackle and good in the air. He still has a way to go, but he certainly has the talent. We do have some good young players coming through, Morris and Fielding have played internationally at youth level for England. We also have Hanley, Jones''s defencive partner in the reserves who is Scotland''s under 19 captain. Hoilett and Olsson are both coming through aswell with the latter playing for the full international team recently.

Posted 11:42 28th September 2010

Ryan Marsden says...

Makes me chuckle seeing Liverpool fans naming players like Darby, Eccleston and Spearing who have shown no promise at all and will be playing in league 1 in 3 or 4 years time. Don''t think Ravel Morrison will make it at United but he will be a very good Championship player and maybe even bottom half of the premiership. Will Keane scores goals for fun at U18 level but for me the most promising youngster United have is John Cofie, quick, powerful, good finisher, he has it all to make it at Old Trafford. Also look out for Tom Thorpe who puts in very consistent performances at CB for United''s academy.

Posted 10:45 25th September 2010

Shropshire Alex (Crewe Alexandra fan) says...

Nick Powell is good indeed, and Max Clayton will be a top striker. Interested in the comment on Matt Tootle our right back. Yes, he''s coming on fast and growing into a real first team defender, but he''s never been involved in England age group games as Powell and Clayton (and our U-17 keeper, Ben Garratt) have - needs to be seen. Perhaps Psycho should pop down to Gresty Towers?

Posted 17:33 24th September 2010

Stuart Rook (West Ham United fan) says...

Frank Nouble at West Ham looks like he could prove to be a handful in the future, we also have a few very promising young players in Jordan Spence, Christian Montano, Dominic Vose and Robert Hall. The present might be pretty bleak but the future looks bright!

Posted 12:55 21st September 2010

Ste Brandreth (Manchester United fan) says...

Also from Crewe Matthew Tootle an excellent young right back who has been playing in the 1st team for nearly a full season now at the age of only 19. Cannot see him staying with Crewe long and could be the answer to a problem area for England in the future.

Posted 12:39 21st September 2010

Max Imillion (Manchester United fan) says...

Paul Pogba, Robbie Brady, Michele Fornasier, Davide Petrucci, John Cofie, Larnell Cole, James Chester, Will keane, Reece Brown, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Marnick vermijl, Febien Brandy, Be amos, sam Jonstone, luke giverin, Nicky Ajose, Oliver Norwood.......

Posted 12:23 21st September 2010

Sean Burns (Liverpool fan) says...

A good shout with Alex Smithies, do think Martin Kelly deserves a mention, while it is ridiculous to see Raheem Sterling missed out, one of the hottest prospects in England. Will Liverpool fans please not mention Spearing. He''s 21 and is as good as our group of 18 year olds, nothing special really, as is Stephen Darby. 22 and not shown much promise, will be playing in League 1 in a few years.

Posted 11:57 21st September 2010

Steven Hellis (Swindon Town fan) says...

Danie ''Danny'' Ward. Came on loan to Swindon from Bolton last season. Wow. Just wow. What a future prospect he is. For an 18 yr old, there isnt much he isnt capable of. So well built, stocky, huge amount of pace. Sweet left foot. Powerful, heading is good aswell. Came down to us and scored some glorious goals, Most importantly, a goal in each of the Semi-Final play-offs. Were brilliantly worked goals aswell. Seriously, CHARLIE AUSTIN aswell. Maybe 21, but still really worth the look at. Stepped up from Non-league football Poole Town, joined Swindon Town, ended up scoring 24 goals in a dramatic first season for a 20 yr old. Now still only 21, already got 4 goals in 5 games. Who wasnt trying to sign him in the summer ?? Cheers

Posted 11:01 21st September 2010

Pratish Solanki (Newcastle United fan) says...

Future GK is Fraser Forster. End of story.

Posted 10:54 21st September 2010

Stevie B (Liverpool fan) says...

Martin Kelly from liverpool is very promising put in some really good displays in the euproa league cup and should get some league and cup games to, and has also scored on his england u21 debut. Also David Amoo, Nathan Eccleston, Andre Wisdom, Michael Ngoo, Jonjo Shelvey,

Posted 10:41 21st September 2010

Spartacus Mills (Crewe Alexandra fan) says...

Powell is a class act. Having watched Rob Jones, Danny Murphy and Dean Ashton all make their debuts at Gresty Rd as 16 year olds, I can say that this kid could ba as good, or better, than any of them. Having said that, it is believed that Max Clayton of the same age group has the ability to go on to be at least as good.

Posted 09:49 21st September 2010

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