Martin Kelly (Liverpool)
Right-back is a position England have yet to properly fill since the departure of Gary Neville. Kelly’s team mate Glen Johnson has been the regular right-back under Fabio Capello, but critics have been far from complimentary on the defensive side of his game. Kenny Dalglish has been impressed with Kelly’s performances and has even moved Johnson to left back in order to give him a place in the team. Kelly’s problem so far has been injuries, but if he can get a full season under his belt he could become the man to fill that right-back spot. He has experienced European football and some of his best performances have been against the big teams. With a lack of English right backs in the Premier League, Kelly must feel he can make that position his own.
Connor Wickham (Sunderland)
The 18-year-old has been one of the most talked-about young players in the last few years. After moving to the Premier League with Sunderland, Wickham has the chance to prove that all the hype around him is worth it. Despite being seen as too much of a gamble for the Premier League’s big boys, Wickham was picked up by the Black Cats in an attempt to replace Darren Bent. If he can strike up an effective partnership with Asamoah Gyan, he could draw the attention of Fabio Capello, who has a lack of striking options. With Wickham likely to be given plenty of first team opportunities by Steve Bruce, he should be a player to watch this season.
Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Another player who will be looking at that right-back spot will be young Kyle Walker. The 21-year-old who impressed on loan at Aston Villa last season will be looking to get plenty of opportunities at Spurs this season. Harry Redknapp might give Walker a chance in the first team after he looked so established in the Villa set up last season. If not, he is likely to have a season on loan at another Premier League club. Walker’s defensive ability seems to be sound, and if he can make it into the Spurs team it should be tested both in the Premier League and Europe. If he’s given regular first team football however, Walker could be a potential England player.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal)
Like Wickham, Chamberlain is another lower league player who has been tipped as a future England star. The 18-year-old impressed at former club Southampton, becoming a standout performer in their promotion campaign. The winger made 36 appearances and scored nine goals last season. He is a player with real flair and many say that he is as good as or maybe even better than Theo Walcott was at that age. The question is whether Arsene Wenger will give him the opportunity to shine in the Premier League. If he does, then Chamberlain could very well develop into an Arsenal and England regular.
Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal)
After the departure of Gael Clichy to Manchester City, Gibbs has been given the opportunity to establish himself as Arsenal’s new left-back. So far in his Arsenal career, he has been in and out of the Arsenal side depending on injuries to Clichy, but Gibbs has experience of both Champions League and big-game Premier League football. As a result, he has earned two England call-ups. However, with players like Stephen Warnock and Leyton Baines getting regular football, Gibbs has moved down the pecking order. If he impresses this season, he is very likely to make the squad for the European Championships as cover for Ashley Cole.
Henri Lansbury (Arsenal)
After the departure of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and Arsene Wenger’s reluctance to spend money, Lansbury has a real opportunity to try and fill the gap in Arsenal’s central midfield. Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshire have already made themselves regulars in the Gunners’ midfield and after Samir Nasri’s exit, it’s likely the-20-year old will get an opportunity to shine. The England Under-21 international has already impressed in the Championship while on loan at Watford and Norwich. At Norwich he was one of the key performers in their promotion campaign. He should therefore get opportunities in the Premier League either at Arsenal or on loan at another Premier League club. He is an exciting player with good passing and goal scoring ability who could easily excite England fans.
Scott Sinclair (Swansea City)
The 22-year-old has had a mixed start to his career. After being tipped to be a future star for Chelsea, he was frustrated by the lack of first team opportunities and continually being sent on loan to Championship clubs. Now after moving to Swansea last season, he has established himself as a key player in Brendon Rodgers’s team. He is a player for big occasions, a point which was proven in the play-off final when he scored a hat-trick to help secure Swansea promotion. If Sinclair can repeat his Championship form in the Premier League, he will surely be a player to watch and will certainly come under Capello’s radar. The question for him this season is whether he can see enough of the ball to make an impact.
Phil Jones (Manchester United)
The 19-year-old centre-back has a crucial season ahead of him after his big money move from Blackburn to Manchester United. Jones has been one of the top young footballers in the country, and is on the verge of an international call-up. He is tipped to become an England regular in years to come with the possibility of becoming a future captain of the national side. Sir Alex Ferguson has already said that both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have to look out for Jones who he has said will be given plenty of first team opportunities. With both Vidic and Ferdinand out for the first few weeks of the season, Jones has a wonderful chance of establishing himself in the United team. If he manages to, he could well make the England squad for the 2012 European Championships.
Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Smalling was a crucial part of Manchester United’s championship winning season last season and many people will be wondering if he can repeat his performances. If so Smalling, who is on the fringe of the England squad, could become a regular fixture At United. It will also be exciting to see how he performs with Phil Jones at the centre of United’s defence. The pair will be given plenty of opportunities to play together as Sir Alex Ferguson has already looked to them to replace Vidic and Ferdinand in the future. Capello will want to pay particular attention to how Smalling performs in the right back position, (a serious point of weakness for England). If Smalling continue his good form, he should definitely be looking at a place in the England and Manchester United starting line-up.
Tom Cleverley (Manchester United)
Cleverley is a player who is drawing comparisons with Paul Scholes and even Xavi after only two first team appearances for United. Sir Alex Ferguson’s high hopes for the 22-year-old were one of the reasons that stopped United pursuing Wesley Sneijder. The midfielder impressed in the Premier League last season at Wigan, and at this year’s Community Shield he stood out as one of United’s best young players. He was unfortunate not to make his England debut against Holland due to the postponement of the friendly, but this is unlikely to be the only time he’s called up to the national side this season. After already leap-frogging Michael Carrick to the central midfield position at United, it looks likely he will soon take his place in the England squad. Cleverley is the player who I would recommend as the English player to watch this season, he will be a star in years to come.