Although it may not seem like it, this season could be quite monumental for the future of the England national team with qualification for the 2020 European Championships resuming as early as September. Chelsea have an English manager in Frank Lampard, a legend at that, who has actually played in the same side as current national team boss Gareth Southgate. Under Lampard’s control this season is an exciting young crop of England Lions, some have featured already for the senior squad whilst some are still working their way up the youth system – all it takes is exposure at the highest level for them to be spring-boarded into contention in the senior game.
This very scenario has occurred for a few reasons – the transfer ban has meant that Lampard can only utilise the current squad at his disposal, he can’t make any transfers or signings. This means he has to put faith in a number of players who may previously have had their position under threat but for the embargo, in addition to any changes to his line-up that’ll occur through injuries or suspensions.
Chelsea have Ross Barkley, the most seasoned player in their squad in terms of international appearances. He’s been capped 24 times and has scored four goals – his role in the national side increased at the recent UEFA Nations League, playing the majority of games in comparison to his Euro 2016 campaign where he failed to even come off the bench to play a single minute. Southgate has given debuts to the Stamford Bridge trio of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham in the last two years. The former has played ten times for the national side whilst Hudson-Odoi would have played more but for his latest injury, keeping him out of the Nations League finals. He only earned his first call-up back in March this year but will be a promising outlet going forward in the future. Abraham also has two appearances for England and it’s not out of the realms of possibility that he earns a recall if this season goes to plan – his under-21 record is mightily impressive having netted nine goals in 26 appearances. That just leaves Mason Mount, who will almost certainly gain a call-up this season if he plays regularly enough, he’s featured for every age group from the under-16s right to the under-21s.
This core of English talent are all likely to feature for Lampard this coming season, when they are all fit and available. Both Barkley and Mount have hugely impressed this pre-season as they seem to be both vying for that number ten role but what’s to say they don’t both start? The latter has actually top-scored despite only ever featuring at levels below the Premier League. The 20-year-old looks to be continuing on from last season at Derby County where he scored 11 and assisted six from attacking midfield. Barkley is being given an opportunity under Lampard to shine and it’s clear to see his stewardship is already paying off after a stunning Lampard-esque free-kick against Reading at the weekend. His place in the team would probably be under intense questioning had the transfer market been available to operate in.
What it all means, ultimately, is that Chelsea’s situation aided by the willingness of their boss to trust their youth could result in any standout performances throughout the year assisting England in the long-run. Hudson-Odoi and Mount should be the future of the national side. It seems surprising to consider that Raheem Sterling is still only 24, meaning he could partner the aforementioned pair for years to come in attack and that’s quite the stunning proposition. Had Maurizio Sarri still been in charge then it may have been unlikely that Loftus-Cheek signed a new contract and maybe even Hudson-Odoi would’ve ended up at Bayern Munich. Just don’t be surprised to see the bulk of England’s next squad be from West London, there certainly is a good chance it will be if all goes to plan for Lampard.