The phrase ‘Golden Generation’ and England go together about as well as sand in a sandwich.
But f*** it. It’s Monday, the sun has gone back in to hiding for the next three months and we’re in need of a little pick me up.
Phil Foden’s vibrant cameo for Man City at the weekend combined with Jadon Sancho’s man-of-the-match performance for Borussia Dortmund got us looking to the future.
Like it or not, as current holders of the Under-20 and Under-17 World Cups, England are cooking up the next ‘Golden Generation’.
Like Steven Gerrard and co before them it might end in repeated quarter-final exits at every international tournament we enter.
But forget the inherent negativity that comes with being an England fan.
We’ve compiled a side using only English outfield players under the age of 23 and we’re now convinced England will win a World Cup before this decade is out.
Everton’s Jordan Pickford should have the England no.1 spot wrapped up for a good few years, barring a Rob Green-esque mistake against Panama in Russia.
He’s 24, so shouldn’t really be in our Under-23 side, but everyone knows the rules are different for goalkeepers.
Plus, his left foot is so good that it’ll probably come in handy during penalty shootouts.
We know Ryan Sessegnon isn’t a left-back. He hasn’t scored 15 league goals from defence like some experts would have you believe.
But his impending move to Spurs will no doubt see Mauricio Pochettino turn him into the best left-back in the league.
On the other side is Trent Alexander-Arnold who, Kevin De Bruyne aside, genuinely might have the best right-footed delivery in the Premier League.
John Stones and Joe Gomez take the centre-back spots although Reece Oxford could push them close if he’s allowed to flourish in the Bundesliga.
Can Gerrard and Lampard play together? Who cares, that’s a conversation for the past.
Can Lewis Cook and Dele Alli play together? Of course they can. They won’t just play, they’ll flourish in a midfield two.
The only slight downside of playing Alli deeper means he’ll have to curb his nutmeg addiction.
England have been accused of being too stagnant and unimaginative in the past.
But setting Raheem Sterling, Sancho and Foden free to run riot in the final third will cure any English blues.
Give Foden another year with Pep Guardiola and he’ll have Twitter accounts like ‘Fodenism’ and ‘Fodenista’ dedicated to his every touch.
Sir Marcus Rashford, as he’ll be known when he scores the winning goal in the 2018 World Cup final, leads the line.
It’s easy to forget that Rashford is still only 20, given his meteoric rise.
Don’t worry though, even Marcus struggles to remember his age sometimes.
(P.S. We haven’t mentioned Callum Hudson-Odoi, Angel Gomes, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Rhian Brewster, Lukas Nmecha, Chris Willock, Mandela Egbo, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson, Morgan Gibbs-White and all the other youngsters who will be part of England’s victorious World Cup campaigns.)
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