England's new generation: Who could start at Euro 2012?
Published : 03 Sep 2010 12:22:42
After England's abysmal showing at the World Cup in South Africa there were widespread calls for an influx of youth into Fabio Capello's underachieving squad.
While the Italian has since made the token gesture of calling up Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs, he continues to ignore some of the brightest talents emerging in this country.
Football.co.uk's Joe Strange takes a look at Fabio's options for the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign and picks a possible starting XI for Poland and Ukaine in two years time.
Goalkeeper - Joe Hart
Virtually established as England's new number one goalkeeper, Hart could well go on to cement his place for the next 15 years or more. He will still be in his early twenties when the European Championships roll around and will hopefully have a solid qualifying campaign behind him.
Right-back - Micah Richards
Once regarded as a future England regular, Richards finds himself still involved in the under-21s rather than than the senior side. His form has improved over the last year and the added competition at Manchester City could help his game develop further.
Central defence - Chris Smalling
When Sir Alex Ferguson spends £7million on a 20-year-old with just a few top-flight appearances, you know he's got something special about him. Smalling is now an under-21 regular after making a meteoric rise from non-league Maidstone to Premier League Manchester United.
Central defence - Phil Jones
Another of last season's breakthrough stars, Jones has been attracting the interest of some big clubs with his all-action displays for Blackburn Rovers. Able to play in defence of midfield, the 18-year-old looks certain for a big international future.
Left-back - Kieran Gibbs
Called up by Capello for the last two England squads, Gibbs appears to be a favourite of the Italian. His first team opportunities at Arsenal have been severely limited so far and he will need more game time if he is to seriously challenge Ashley Cole.
Right midfield - Theo Walcott
Looks a good bet to start against Bulgaria this evening after his blistering start to the new season with Arsenal. Finally looks to be realising his huge potential which can only be good news for Capello and England.
Central midfield - Jack Rodwell
Now captain of the under-21s, Rodwell has made a huge impression since bursting onto the scene with Everton in 2007. Able to play in central defence, but more comfortable in the middle of midfield, most pundits predict Jack will be a regular for the senior side anytime soon.
Central midfield - Jack Wilshere
Picked up his first senior cap against Hungary last month but left out of the squad for tonight's game. His prodigious talent and ability to play anywhere in midfield make him a major weapon for England's future, although he needs to play regularly for Arsenal.
Left midfield - Adam Johnson
Looks likely to start this evening and seems to have convinced Capello of his quality despite missing out on a place in the World Cup squad. Johnson has been insuperb form for Manchester City but might struggle to make an impact if they continue their massive spending.
Striker - Wayne Rooney
Will still be just 26-years-old at the Euro finals in 2012 and will surely be England's number one striker should we manage to qualify. Has been on an awful run of international form but will still be vital if the Three Lions are to emulate the success of their World Cup qualifying campaign.
Striker - Andy Carroll
Has learnt his trade with Stuart Pearce and the under-21s and doesn't look far away from a senior call up. Four goals in three games at the start of this season indicate that he can perform at the top level. Could be the perfect 'big man' to partner Rooney up-front.