With England having scored the most number of goals and conceded the least, it is safe to say that Steve Cooper’s boys enter the final as favourites. Ahead of a repeat of this summer’s Under-17 Euro final, here’s a look at five English players who could make a difference at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.
With three clean sheets and a starring role in the penalty shootout win over Japan in the round of 16, Curtis Anderson has already caught the eye at this World Cup. A Manchester City Under-18 squad member, Anderson saved a penalty and scored from the spot against Japan. Although his shot-stopping can be a bit suspect at times, Anderson’s place in the starting XI remains unchallenged.
With England possessing the best defence in the tournament, the former Blackpool goalie is certainly in with a shout for the Golden Glove. Anderson already has the best save rate among goalkeepers who have at least played two matches in this World Cup – 82.6 per cent. His time at Manchester City has already seen him train with the first team. Having just turned 17, there is plenty of time ahead for the custodian to make his mark and it will not be a surprise to see his involvement at the senior level in near future.
The skipper has played every minute of England’s World Cup campaign till now, even earning himself a mid-tournament promotion. Angel Gomes was slated to lead the team in the knockouts, but he was dropped for the quarter-final against USA. Latibeatudiere, though, has faced no such prospect.
Leading the squad impressively from the defence, the Manchester City academy product has often been described by the club fans as the “new Vincent Kompany”. Latibeaudiere is coming off an eventful year which saw him suffer a long injury layoff. It seemed he was set to miss the Euro in the summer but a last-minute call up for the final led to a place for him in the starting XI. A missed penalty in the shootout did not help England’s cause, but Latibeaudiere has barely put a foot wrong in India. Following his rehabilitation from injury, a bulked-up frame has transformed the defender into a formidable presence.
With only a goal to his name, the Chelsea youngster has not set the World Cup alight but he has been quietly incandescent. He is a key part of the current England set-up as he provides pace and guile on the wings. Thanks to his skill-set, the 16-year-old is one of the more eye-catching players in the English team.
Hudson-Odoi joined Chelsea as an eight-year-old and ever since, he has played in a higher age group. In fact, the youngster signed a three-year contract with the 'Blues' after an impressive debut season with the Under-18s which saw the club lift three trophies. Hudson-Odoi followed that up by scoring for the under-23s against Manchester United in September. Also eligible for Ghana, the Londoner found the net for England in the Euro final this summer and he may have another star turn in him on Saturday.
Already a part of Manchester City’s first team squad, Foden can certainly count Pep Guardiola among his admirers. Placed out wide on the right flank usually, Foden is actually left-footed. His ability to leave opponents behind with deft movement is a prized attribute, with a goal and an assist to his name at the World Cup.
Foden’s driving runs from the midfield have been a crucial factor in England’s incisiveness in this tournament. After his impressive display for City in a pre-season friendly against Manchester United this summer, Guardiola found himself lost for words. “It’s a long time since I saw something like this. His performance was another level. He’s 17-years-old, he’s a City player, he grew up in the academy, he loves the club, he’s a City fan and for us he’s a gift,” said the former Barcelona manager. On the evidence of what we have seen during the World Cup, he is a gift for England too.
Who else? The top-scorer of the World Cup has taken the tournament by storm. Brewster’s lethal right foot brought consecutive hat-tricks in the quarters and semis. The Liverpool forward, who moved to the club at the age of 15 from Chelsea, has stunned opposition defences with his pace and eye for goal.
A star back home already, Brewster is being touted to make his senior Liverpool debut at some point this season. Jurgen Klopp has already named him as a serious prospect and it will please him to see the forward’s ability to press the opposition defences hard. Brewster is also adept at dropping wide and involving others into play.
Indeed, his maturity and composure has attracted the attention of observers far and wide. With seven goals to his name already, Brewster will look to claim the Golden Boot for himself with a few more strikes in the final.
Updated Date: Oct 28, 2017 09:26:58 IST