In recent weeks the promising form of England’s fringe strikers has drawn calls that they be considered for a spot in the national team. With Daniel Sturridge still sidelined, Rooney dropping deeper into Manchester United’s midfield and Danny Welbeck pushed wide by Arsene Wenger to accommodate Olivier Giroud, is there perhaps room for a new England centre forward? Among the hopefuls the four who stand out are young talent Harry Kane and Danny Ings and interesting options Andy Carroll and Charlie Austin.
Kane and Ings represent England’s promising young players, and having advanced through the national set up’s youth sides both now appear ready to step up to the senior squad. Danny Ings is recently promoted Burnley’s top scorer, whose combination of electric pace, intelligent positioning and calm finishing makes him a tantalising prospect for any team. However, his tenure in any starting line up for England might be curtailed by the return of Liverpool’s Sturridge, who shares Ings’ effective skill-set, with the added bonus of his few extra years of experience and development. Therefore, though Ings might be the best like-for-like replacement for the currently sidelined Sturridge, the Reds man’s recovery surely sees him back in the England team at Ings’ expense.
Kane, on the other hand, represents a more unique alternative, a different sort of player to any currently occupying England’s front line. His skill set is a more challenging effort to immediately pin down than that of Ings, whose surging runs into the box provide the source for most of his goals. While undoubtedly a talented goalscorer, as evidenced by his prevalence for Tottenham this season, he is more than a poacher, contributing in build-up play and scoring from many areas. For those looking to appraise the young Spurs man, helpful comparisons might be made to England and Newcastle hero, and Premier League all-time top scorer Alan Shearer. While such comparisons may be more than a tad presumptuous of a player aged just 21 years old, with his strong movement and keen eye for goal Shearer is very much a figure to which Kane might aspire.
Questions, though, might arise over their inclusion given the role they might play in England’s continued development through youth teams. With unprecedented attention given to the youth teams, including England manager Hodgson allowing under-21s manager Gareth Southgate access to players frequently seen in the senior side (the likes of Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers, to name two, were preferred for an under-21s championship to England qualifiers and friendlies), the pair might be better served by a continuing role in the development of tomorrow’s England senior side, with Ings a consistent goalscorer and Kane forming a promising partnership with fellow hopeful Saido Berahino, already established as an occasional England option. As their quality speaks to the encouraging state of England’s youth development, it is perhaps the preferable option that they continue to progress within that system.
Carroll and Austin, meanwhile, have demonstrated a determination that merits consideration for an England team that may use more bite in the final third. Carroll’s career trajectory has been an intriguing one, now enjoying success at West Ham and rediscovering his former promise after his Liverpool blip and a time on the sidelines. With previous international experience, Carroll has the requisite experience for a call-up, though is perhaps more beneficial as a plan b, an aerial option to lob balls at if needed, than a regular starter. It is Austin, though, who may well be the most encouraging option of the four available, having already notched an impressive 11 in the Premier League this season. England are well-stocked with creative players, and so a finisher of Austin’s evident calibre might be the final piece of the puzzle. With the likes of Rooney, Welbeck, Sterling and Lallana buzzing around him a proven goalscorer like Austin represents the ideal outlet to turn that midfield industry and skilful wing play into goals.
With the respective merits of each player providing different possibilities, what is clear is that England is producing a creative and versatile wealth of forwards.
What qualities of these four prospective England aim to improve the current national squad?