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Under-20 World Cup triumph must be the start for England youngsters

Liverpool-bound striker Dominic Solanke helped England win the under-20 World Cup in South Korea

England won the under-20 World Cup for the first time ever on Sunday, as Paul Simpson’s junior Lions recorded a 1-0 win over Venezuela, courtesy of a goal from Everton youngster Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

It could have been so different, but for a late penalty save from Newcastle goalkeeper Andy Woodman, who denied Watford’s Adalberto Penaranda brilliantly.

This may not have been the senior team. However, England fans do not tend to get much to celebrate at major tournaments.

In fact, Simpson’s team were the first England team at any age level to win an international tournament since the Three Lions famous 1966 victory.

England players often overhyped

English players are often overhyped if they show any sort of promise. The media build them up, just so they can knock them down, especially the tabloids. Most of the time it is not the player’s fault if they fall short of expectations, as a lot of them are not good enough in the first place.

However, they have not asked to be described as ‘world-class’ or a potential ‘world-beater’. England’s so-called ‘Golden Generation’ turned out to be more beige. They failed to achieve at major tournament after major tournament.

In terms of international tournaments, they were never in the same league as many of their opponents. However, as they were English they were expected to be world-beaters. The under-20 players still have this all to come in their professional careers.

Youngsters need to push on from here

Most of the England squad have barely played first team football in the top-flight. The player who scored the winning goal for England, Calvert-Lewin is one of the more experienced players when it comes to playing in the Premier League.

The forward made 11 appearances last season for Everton after joining the Toffees from League One Sheffield United last summer. Next season will be a big one for the forward and a number of his teammates.

Calvin-Lewin’s Toffees teammate right-back Jonjoe Kenny was one of England’s most impressive players at the World Cup. The youngster may get his chance in the first team next season with first choice right-back Seamus Coleman sidelined for the start of the campaign.

Yet another Toffee who impressed in South Korea was exciting winger Ademola Lookman. The 19-year-old produced a number of excellent displays for Simpson’s team. No doubt, he will play more of a part next season for Ronald Koeman’s team.

Striker Dominic Solanke will join Liverpool from Chelsea in July. It will be interesting to see how the promising striker does on Merseyside and if he sees much first team football next season. The noises coming out of the club suggest that he will play in the Reds under-23 side next season.

A player who looks sure to shine next season is England under-20 captain Lewis Cook. The central midfielder joined Bournemouth last season and the former Leeds star looked set to be a star. Unfortunately, injuries hampered Cook’s debut campaign in the top-flight.

With Jack Wilshere heading back to Arsenal after a loan spell, Cook is likely to play more first team football next season.

How many will make it to the senior side?

The whole point of youth teams is to produce players capable of stepping into senior international sides eventually. A number of English players tend to by-pass the under-20 or under-21 squads and go straight into the senior teams.

That means young players have very little experience of playing in tournaments, except if they are good enough to make the senior squad. The likes of Marcus Rashford, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling have all went through this process to a certain extent.

I really hope that a reasonable number of the under-20 team can make it into the senior set-up eventually. However, their development will greatly depend on whether they can actually play football at the top level.

England teams achieving success at any level is cause for celebration, as the Three Lions so often flatter to deceive on the international stage. Everybody connected with the England under-20 team deserves immense credit. The players and staff have handled the pressure extremely well and it could be good preparation for their future careers.

Whether this victory will mean anything for the future of English football is unclear. However, for now, at least England can finally say that they are World Champions at some level for the first time in over 50 years. It is better than nothing I suppose.

Will England winning the under-20 World Cup improve the senior team in the near future?


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