Trials and Tribulations: England’s U20s 2017 World Cup Squad: Part 2
Lewis Cook – Captain of the England U20s, the Bournemouth midfielder became the first English captain to lift a World Cup since Bobby Moore in 1966. Following such a milestone, Cook had a confident 2017-18 season, his steady displays being rewarded with his senior England debut in March and being put on standby for the 2018 World Cup squad.
Furthermore, he was also captain for England U20s in the Toulon Tournament, which they won to further crown a good 12 months for English youth football.
However, the following season was a step back for Cook, suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in early December 2018. Returning to fitness in September 2019, Cook has alternated from starting in midfield to coming off the bench, but the midfielder will look to play a vital part in Bournemouth avoiding relegation once the Premier League resumes.
Joshua Onomah – Featuring notably the U20 World Cup, it was hoped Onomah could cement a place in Spurs’ first team squad. However, these last few seasons have consisted of Onomah being loaned out to Championship clubs.
Playing at Aston Villa for the 2017-18 season gave him regular first team football, contributing four goals and three assists from 33 league appearances.
Photo: Michael Regan / Getty
The 2018-19 season was spent on loan at Nottingham Forest only for knee injuries to restrict him to just 15 league appearances. Spurs again sent Onomah out on loan to Fulham for this season, initially enjoying a run of games by making 26 appearances. Unfortunately, Onomah required surgery on his knee that has kept him out.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – Returning from the 2017 World Cup, midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles cemented his place in Arsenal’s squad, with Arsène Wenger utilising his versatility at full back. An impressive performance at left back in the thrilling 3-3 draw against Liverpool on Boxing Day 2018 capped off a breakthrough season, leading him to sign a long term contract in June 2018.
The 2018/19 season under new manager Unai Emery got off to a bad start, as a calf injury in the opening league game of the season kept him out until December. Yet Arsenal made use of his versatility upon his return, playing at right back in Hector Bellerín’s absence.
Photo: Ben Stanstall / Getty
However, Maitland-Niles has long desired to play in his preferred position in midfield, especially as Bellerín’s return to fitness has limited his playing time. Mikel Arteta has positioned Maitland-Niles as a midfielder in training prior to the resumption of the Premier League, so Maitland-Niles must take his chance if he is deployed in midfield.
Kieran Dowell – The attacking midfielder was seen as one of Everton’s bright prospects upon returning from the 2017 U20 World Cup. His loan spell at Nottingham Forest during the 2017-18 season reinforced such views, scoring nine goals in the Championship, despite being used sparingly at the tail end of the season when Aitor Karanka replaced Mark Warburton as manager.
Primarily playing with Everton U23’s for the first half of the 2018-19 season, Dowell went to Sheffield United on a six-month loan deal, playing a cameo in the Blades’ promotion to the Premier League.
Photo: James Williamson / AMA / Getty
However, Everton sent Dowell again on loan to Derby County, but the deal was cut short after Dowell appeared in just 10 out of 28 games. Sent to fellow Championship side Wigan Athletic in January, Dowell has suffered hamstring and ankle injuries that have stymied his playing time.
Sheyi Ojo – Ojo has also gone down the loan route since 2017, going to Fulham for the 2017/18 season, where he was able to feature heavily in the Championship. When returning to his parent club Liverpool, Ojo would sign a long term contract.
However, his next loan spell was different, going to Ligue 1 club Stade de Reims. It was not an upward learning experience for the winger, starting just three of 15 league games, playing just 458 minutes.
Photo: Matthew Ashton / AMA / Getty
When returning to England in summer 2019, Liverpool sent Ojo on loan to Rangers under the management of Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.
His game has grown at Ibrox, featuring notably in the league by creating five assists and tasting European football in the Europa League. There has been rumours Rangers might try to make the loan deal permanent.
Ovie Ejaria – Another player from Liverpool’s academy, Ejaria has also gone down the loan route.
Spending the first part of the 2017-18 season with the U23s, he was sent on loan to Sunderland in January where he made just 11 appearances as the club got relegated from the Championship. The 2018-19 season began with Ejaria being sent out on loan to Rangers under Gerrard.
Photo: Willie Vass
However, his loan spell was cut short in December, as he was sent to Reading on loan. Ejara made a good impression at the Royals for the rest of the season, as he was retained again on loan for the 2019-20 campaign.
The midfielder has been a permanent fixture in midfield this season, missing only four league games and Reading unsurprisingly will make the loan move permanent.
Adam Armstrong – The forward has enjoyed a steady career since the U20 World Cup. Newcastle United initially sent him on loan at then Championship club Bolton for the 2017-18 season, but it was cut short in January after just three goals in 23 appearances.
Newcastle sent him to League One side Blackburn Rovers for the rest of the season. It was a good move, as Armstrong played a key role for Rovers in the second half of the season.
Scoring nine goals in 21 games helped Blackburn win promotion to the Championship. This persuaded Rovers in August to pay Newcastle £1.75m to make the loan move permanent.
Since then, Armstrong has enjoyed regular first team football in the Championship over the last two seasons and a staple of Blackburn’s attack under manager Tony Mowbray.
Dominic Solanke – After winning the Golden Ball at the U20 World Cup, many observers predicted Solanke could make a name of himself, especially after moving to Liverpool from Chelsea in July 2017. Yet if one word could sum up his career since then it would be underachievement.
His first season consisted of mainly cameo appearances, starting just five out of his 21 appearances in the league. Despite limited playing time, Solanke did make his senior England debut in November.
Photo: AFP / Getty
His second season was tough – as he made no league appearances for Liverpool and was loaned out to Bournemouth in January 2019. Despite scoring just one goal in 10 appearances during his six month loan spell, Liverpool cashed in by selling him to Bournemouth for £19 million.
This season has been difficult for Solanke, finding the net just once from his 28 appearances, starting in just 14. A move away is likely needed if Solanke is to put his career back on track.
Ademola Lookman – Lookman has also taken the path of looking further afield for first team football. Mainly used in the Europa League for Everton in the first few months of the 2017-18 season, Lookman went to RB Leipzig to test himself in the Bundesliga, with RB Leipzig known for developing young talent.
He didn’t take long to make an impression, as in his first game, he came off the bench to score the winner against Borussia Monchengladbach. It was an impactful loan spell for Lookman, scoring five goals and creating four assists in 11 league games.
Photo: GEPA Pictures
There was interest from RB Leipzig in making the move permanent yet Everton held firm. It did not help Lookman, as he spent most of the 2018-19 season on the bench, starting just three league games and coming off the bench on 18 occasions. Merely starting one or two domestic cup games did nothing but harm Lookman’s career.
Being sent on loan to RB Leipzig again for the 2019-20 season was a move that was hoped could rekindle his form. Alas, Lookman has found himself on the bench this season, finding it difficult to supplant Dani Olmo, Christopher Nkunku and Marcel Sabitzer.
Harrison Chapman – Chapman has been plagued by injury since 2017. Middlesbrough sent him on loan to Blackburn Rovers for the 2017-18 season, making 16 appearances before a hamstring injury in October ended his season.
Photo: Rachel Halborn / Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn signed him permanently in January 2019 yet only made two league appearances that season. Fitness concerns have meant Chapman has mainly played in the U23’s this season, making only five senior appearances this season.
With only a year left on his contract, a move away from Ewood Park is a considerable possibility unless Chapman can get first team football.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – Calvert-Lewin has gone from strength to strength over the last few seasons. Scoring the winning goal against Venezuela to win England the U20 World Cup, Calvert-Lewin broke into the first team and impressed by creating an assist in each of his first two league games.
Burgeoning performances in the top flight and Europa League persuaded Everton to tie him to a five year contract, as Calvert-Lewin ended an impressive breakout season with eight goals overall and 7 league assists.
Consolidating himself as Everton’s leading striker in the 2018-19 season under Marco Silva, Calvert-Lewin bagged six league goals during the campaign. However, the sacking of Silva in December 2019 would benefit the young forward, as he was invigorated by the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti.
Calvert-Lewin had scored just five league goals this season before Ancelotti’s arrival, though it did include two goals in the 3-1 win against Chelsea under interim head coach Duncan Ferguson.
Since Ancelotti’s arrival, Calvert-Lewin has been prolific, scoring eight goals in 10 league games, including against Arsenal and Man United. 13 goals in 27 league games this season is an impressive strike rate, prompting Everton to tie him down to a new contract until summer 2025. Ancelotti unlocking Calvert-Lewin’s potential to maximum effect bodes well for the Toffees.
By: Yousef Teclab
Featured Image: @GabFoligno