It wasn’t too long ago that England were struggling for senior talent, now there’s almost too much for the Under 21s.
With Gareth Southgate naming his penultimate squad before the 2022 World Cup, there will be a few younger faces gutted to have missed out.
For every Marc Guehi who’s been included for the Nations League games against Germany and Italy, there’s a fully fledged senior player like Conor Gallagher who failed to make the cut.
But as disappointed as they will be, U21s boss Lee Carsley will be over the moon being able to pick from some of the world’s best young talent.
Perhaps headlining the group is 2022 Golden Boy nominee Harvey Elliott, who had previously been tipped for a Qatar wildcard.
The 19-year-old, who was formerly the Premier League’s youngest-ever player during his Fulham days, returned to the Liverpool line-up this season after his emergence last term was cut short by a brutal leg break.
The versatile attacking midfielder, who has also been utilised on the wing, was a surprise addition to Jurgen Klopp’s starting XIs to begin the 2021/22 campaign, and after months on the sidelines, he’s now relied upon once again.
Elliott scored his first Liverpool goal last season in the FA Cup against Cardiff upon his return from injury, and has now broken his duck in the league, guiding in a sublime effort against Bournemouth.
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“I keep talking about Harvey Elliott catching Gareth Southgate’s eye, and if he keeps going like this he will not be able to ignore him,” said talkSPORT’s Adrian Durham.
“I think when they were drawing games, losing against Manchester United, Liverpool were under par and he was coming out with credit.”
Alongside him in midfield will likely be Chelsea’s Gallagher, who lost his place in the senior side after returning to Stamford Bridge and struggling to replicate the form he showed on loan at Crystal Palace last season.
His performances at Selhurst Park under Patrick Vieira earned him four senior England caps, and former Premier League striker Dean Ashton raved about the dynamic midfielder.
Ahead of a World Cup qualifier against San Marino, Ashton said: “He absolutely deserves his call up. I’d expect him to start. I’d expect him to come over and start the game, I’d be surprised if not.
“It’s such a great opportunity for Gareth Southgate to give these players the opportunity to play with the freedom against a side they are going to beat.”
And the midfield reviews keep coming, with Aston Villa’s Jacob Ramsey also earning high praise from his manager Steven Gerrard.
“He’s going to be a terrific player and it won’t be too long before the whole country is watching him, I’m sure because he’s in a top place,” Gerrard said.
“I know the level of England players, I’ve played with some of them, and watched many of them for many years and Jacob Ramsey is right up there, let me tell you.”
There’s also big movers in the transfer market for Carsley to choose from, with Morgan Gibbs-White fetching £35million from Nottingham Forest, Keane Lewis-Potter £16m from Brentford, James Garner £15m from Everton and Djed Spence £20m from Tottenham.
And that number could have been almost doubled had Everton let £60m-rated Anthony Gordon leave for Chelsea, while Ryan Sessegnon is thriving under Antonio Conte at Spurs.
It’s not just UK-based players who have made the cut, with a pair of stars lighting it up abroad hoping to make an impact.
Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun has made waves on loan at Stade Reims, with his five Ligue 1 goals in eight games keeping him fourth in the scoring charts, above the likes of Lionel Messi, Alexandre Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez.
Former Manchester United academy star Angel Gomes is also in the fold, coming off of an impressive loan with Portuguese side Boavista to join Lille’s talent pool, where he’s started every game this season.
Recent years have seen England win the U20 and U17 World Cups, as well twice taking home the U19 European Championship trophy, and judging by the XI below, the halcyon days of youth football in England look well set to continue.
Goalkeepers: Joe Bursik (Stoke City), Josh Griffiths (Portsmouth, loan from West Bromwich Albion), James Trafford (Bolton Wanderers, loan from Manchester City)
Defenders: Max Aarons (Norwich City), Charlie Cresswell (Millwall, loan from Leeds United), Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Burnley, loan from Manchester City), Luke Mbete (Huddersfield Town, loan from Manchester City), Levi Colwill (Brighton & Hove Albion, loan from Chelsea), Ryan Sessegnon (Tottenham Hotspur), Djed Spence (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Thomas (Leicester City)
Midfielders: Tommy Doyle (Sheffield United, loan from Manchester City), Harvey Elliott (Liverpool), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), James Garner (Everton), Morgan Gibbs-White (Nottingham Forest), James McAtee (Sheffield United, loan from Manchester City), Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa), Oliver Skipp (Tottenham Hotspur)
Forward: Folarin Balogun (Stade de Reims, loan from Arsenal), Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United), Angel Gomes (Lille), Anthony Gordon (Everton), Keane Lewis-Potter (Brentford), Cole Palmer (Manchester City)