Teenage sensations seem to be all the rage, after a weekend in which Joe Gomez shone and Reece Oxford just about managed to remove a certain Mesut Ozil from his back pocket as he left The Emirates. Now, it’s very English to heap loads of pressure on a youngster and declare that he will go on to be one of the world’s best, we’re sorry David Bentley, but why change a winning formula?
There’s talent in that there Premier League and after scouring the squads of the nation’s top 20 sides we have an XI of whipper snappers that would send shivers down Alan Hansen’s spine.
The 'keeping berth almost saw us come unstuck at the first hurdle, because, let’s face it, a teenage goalkeeper is the equivalent of an eight-year-old outfield player. However, Freddie Woodman has made it in here. The 18-year-old is highly-rated by Newcastle and has three England U19 caps to his name. He won the Jack Hixon Trophy last season, singling him out as the biggest talent on Tyneside, and is expected to flourish over the next few years.
It’s safe to say the former Charlton stopper impressed everyone at the weekend. He looked astute on the ball and approached the task of shackling the unnervingly awkward entity of Jonathan Walters admirably. The 18-year-old classes himself as a centre half but as he showed at the Britannia he is more than capable of making a full-back berth his own. He’s slotting in at right-back here, something he may well be asked to do for Liverpool at some point this season.
Read More About Liverpool New Boy Joe Gomez
Being called Reece seems to go a long way in the West Ham academy, but after his namesake Oxford stole the headlines, it would be easy to forget about Burke. The classy centre back excelled at the end of the last campaign in a rather suspect Hammers backline. The Newham-born youngster was voted the club’s Young Player of the Year and is sure to be offered opportunities by Slaven Bilic.
Not many 16-year-olds can say they faced Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale in just their second professional game. Humphreys was given a chance to shine in Man City’s Australian tour and was excellent against Roma before Ronnie and Co tore the Citizens apart in Melbourne. The local boy will have learned a lot and he’s one to keep an eye out for over the next couple of years.
Already an England U21 international, the latest nipper off the Saints production line started the opening game at Newcastle and instantly looked at home. With Ryan Betrand out for at least another two weeks Targett is probably an assist away from an England call-up. The youth team graduate survived an unprecedented physical assault from Aleksandr Mitrovic in the north-east and if he can get through that, he can get through anything.
A sterling display against Arsenal means Oxford can no longer escape the radar. In fact the radar is now pointing firmly at his chest, it may now just be a case of how he copes with the attention. The imminent signing of Joey Barton might see his game time reduced but if Bilic nurtures his talent, he could be mopping up after the likes of Wayne Rooney and Raheem Sterling instead of Matt Jarvis and Mauro Zarate before long.
The long-striding central midfielder made his Chelsea debut last season and got tongues wagging at The Bridge within minutes. However, Jose firmly put a dampener on proceedings in pre-season when he suggested that the 6ft3” protégé was being lazy in a match against Sydney FC. Prepare for comparisons to Patrick Vieira but, whisper it quietly, the Blues might actually have produced a youth player who makes the step up to the first team.
The ex-Wycombe winger is the most experienced member of this team and probably the star man. Ibe has been a revelation since being handed his debut by Rodgers and with the departure of Sterling to pastures blue he could have a big part to play for the Reds. He started the opener at Stoke and it wouldn’t be a great surprise to see him secure one of the wide berths this term.
Just 19 games was enough to convince Manchester City to part with £11m for an 18-year-old with undoubted talent. The pessimist in us all says he’s there just to make up the English quota at The Etihad but Roberts has bags of ability, it’s just a case of whether he gets to show it on a Saturday against Arsenal, rather than on a Tuesday in September against Northampton Town.
The star of Newcastle’s pre-season campaign had to settle for a place on the bench at the weekend but if the flashes of brilliance he showed in the previous campaign are anything to go by, that watching brief won’t last long. Man City and Liverpool were sniffing last year and Steve McClaren will be eager to ensure that Aarons does not become another Sammy Ameobi.
The 19-year-old striker has been sniffing around the first team at Old Trafford for around two years now and with United light of a forward, he could get a chance to prove his worth. He already has four goals to his name for the Red Devils and an injury to Wayne Rooney could see him step up. Think Macheda, think Nevland, think Manucho, the possibilities!