England's bright future: 5 U23 players set to make a huge impact

Ella Toone

The future of England’s national team – given the depth and class it has – is very exciting. Only last month, five players that are 21-years-old or younger made Hege Riise’s squad for the Lionesses’ friendly against Northern Ireland.

The Women’s Super League is currently filled with prospects from all 12 teams in the top flight. So, it only made sense to narrow it down to five names who, if given continued game-time and opportunity at international level, will be England stars for years to come.

Before I take a look at these five names, there is an honourable mention for Niamh Charles, who had a fantastic performance for Chelsea in Wednesday’s Champions League game with VfL Wolfsburg - the Blues beat the German club 2-1.

Niamh Charles

5 | Lauren James | Manchester United | 19-years-old |

Lauren James has been a pivotal member of the Manchester United squad since their inaugural season as a club in 2018.

James, who predominantly plays as a winger, holds two important stats amongst United fans, scoring the club’s first league goals in the Championship in 2018, and in the WSL the following year.

The 19-year-old has represented the Lionesses at youth level and has the technical skill to be a huge star in the future for both club and country.

Lauren has made eight appearances so far for the Reds in the league, scoring once and assisting her teammates on one occasion too.

4 | Ellie Roebuck | Manchester City | 21-years-old |

Ellie Roebuck is only 21-years-old and already number one for both England and Manchester City. Her performances over the last couple of seasons have been the main reason for Lionesses’ legend Karen Bardsley being her understudy.

Roebuck earned herself the Barclays FA WSL Golden Glove last campaign and is fighting for that accolade this year, having only conceded 11 goals in 16 league appearances so far.

Ellie faces competition for a starting spot in England’s team, but if she maintains her impressive form, I can't see why she won’t be the Lionesses’ number one for years to come.

Ellie Roebuck

3 | Ebony Salmon | Bristol City | 20-years-old |

Ebony Salmon is having a brilliant season for Bristol City, despite the club’s position in the WSL table. She has netted six times in 16 appearances thus far, and will be looking to hit double figures come the end of the season.

Salmon recently earned her first England senior cap in the Lionesses’ 6-0 thumping of Northern Ireland in February.

The 20-year-old’s performances this campaign has arguably earned her a move to a club higher up the league standings, especially with Bristol currently in a relegation scrap.
Her ability up top would make for an ideal player in the Lionesses set up, competing with Ellen White and Bethany England in the foreseeable future.

2 | Lauren Hemp | Manchester City | 20-years-old |

Lauren Hemp is a key member of the Manchester City squad, having featured 15 times for the club in all competitions this season. Her ability to find space and take on a full-back with confidence adds more excitement to her future.

Hemp, another skilful winger, has helped City to be in the position they are, by netting eight times thus far. She isn’t just a goalscorer, she has also set up her teammates on several occasions as well.

Lauren’s link-up play with England’s number nine, Ellen White, allows for her to give Risse the confidence to bring this to the international stage.

At only 20-years-old, her performances over the last few years has deservedly earned her six caps for her country, as well as representing the Lionesses from under-17 level through to the senior team.

Given her chemistry with several of City’s fellow England stars, alongside her impressive scoring and assisting record, it’s safe to say we’ll see Hemp continuing to put on a Lionesses shirt for many more years.

Lauren Hemp

1 | Ella Toone | Manchester United | 21-years-old |

Ella Toone is another key member of Casey Stoney’s squad since their first season as a professional club in 2018. She has played every game for United in the WSL so far, as well as three League Cup matches.

Toone, who is described as an “unpredictable winger” and “nightmare for opposition defenders,” by Manchester United’s website, has scored six league goals this campaign. Alongside this she has also assisted her teammates on three occasions.

The 21-year-old unpredictability allows for her to charge at defences with pace and confidence, something she will look to add to her one cap and one goal for England. Toone scored a penalty in the Lionesses 6-0 win over Northern Ireland in February.

Looking to the future, and competition for places on the wing, Ella, if she continues to maintain her confidence in front of goal, could give herself the opportunity to be an England player for years ahead.

These are just five prospects that could be future Lionesses on a regular basis. Who do you think will join them in England’s future squads?

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