Watching England take on the mighty Dutch side recently I noticed a couple of home grown players proudly wearing the three lions, and I started wondering just who the next locally bred talent to follow in Downing & Johnson’s boots may be.
Below I’ve listed a couple of very promising players from each of our top clubs, and hope the thought of them breaking into the first team, representing their countries and cementing their place in local folklore excites you as much as it does me.
Adam Campbell (17) – Lightening fast and tenacious striker.
Campbell is a very highly regarded youngster who made his debut for the Under 18’s at the tender age of 15. The boyhood Newcastle fan went on to win the Manchester United Premier Cup World Finals Most Valuable player in 2010 – a title previously won by Iniesta, Torres and Tevez. Campbell also finished the tournament’s joint top scorer with 6 goals showing an eye for goal and glimpses of a very exciting future ahead of him.
Remie Streete (18) – Quick, strong and aggressive defender.
Son of former Wolves player Floyd Street, and a regular in the reserve team, Remie won the Wor Jackie award for brightest young prospect at Newcastle United in 2010. The talented youngster who lists Rio Ferdinand as his favourite player reportedly turned down an approach from Sunderland to sign for the Magpies, and if he can show even half the quality Ferdinand has over the years he’ll no doubt become a cult hero with the Toon Army.
Ryan Noble (20) – Fast striker with an eye for goal
Noble is a player who knows how to find the back of the net with alarming regularity, scoring 11 in as many games for the reserves last season, and 12 in 9 starts the year before. For the youth team he scored 25 in just 22 games – including a 10 minute hat trick against Newcastle Untied reserves.
Unfortunately injuries have hampered his progress, but should he stay injury free he may well be given opportunities to show his class under Martin O’Neill and possibly cement his place in the 1st team just like James McClean did.
Billy Knott (19) – technically gifted creative winger with a deadly finish
Released by Chelsea and formerly a West Ham United academy player Billy Knott scored 5 goals in his first 8 games for Sunderland Under 18’s, showing a lot of promise and ability along the way. However like many young players trouble has threatened to derail the winger’s future, and Knott was suspended in 2009 for 2 weeks by Chelsea’s academy, and less than a year later released due to a further transgression prior to joining the Black Cats.
Knott clearly has the tools to go on to be a top level player but questions over his attitude will remain until proven otherwise.
Cameron Park (19) – Left winger with good dribbling skills.
Coveted by Kenny Dalglish this left footed Scottish winger is looking to follow in the footsteps of Downing and Johnson in what is becoming a long line of top left wingers to come through the Boro academy. Signed to the club until 2015 there’s plenty of time for Park to establish himself in the Middlesbrough 1st team, and whilst talk of a transfer to Liverpool seems a little premature, there’s every possibility the winger will be widely sought after should he fulfil his potential.
Curtis Main (19) – Striker with a powerful finish on either foot.
Although not one of the players to come through the highly acclaimed academy, the former Darlington front man is expected to feature more prominently for Middlesbrough over the coming years. The fact he was the youngest player ever to pull on the Darlington shirt aged just 15, and won man of the match on his first start for Middlesbrough shows that Main has something that little extra bit special about him. Regarded as one for the future Tony Mowbray recently described the South Shields born striker as having “such pure feet”.
Many thanks to Gary Marriner for providing a great pic for this article