Which clubs own England’s future? The make-up of Three Lions youth squads revealed
Chelsea once again edge ahead with the most Young Lions across England's six development squads, with 20 call-ups already this season. That’s despite the Blues losing Nathaniel Chalobah and Dominic Solanke permanently to Watford and Liverpool respectively this summer (and Chalobah has since earned a place in Gareth Southgate’s senior squad anyway).
They're followed closely by Manchester City with 18 and Arsenal with 16, while Tottenham are the only other club in double figures (11).
Liverpool boast just five call-ups, with three of those earned by players poached from other academies (Solanke, Joe Gomez, Rhian Brewster) – but that still beats Manchester United, who continue a disappointing trend from last campaign with just three.
The distribution across age groups offers a revealing insight into where the future of English football is currently being nurtured.
Everton continue to receive praise for their accessible pathway from academy to first team but are top heavy here, with six of their seven call-ups coming in the U21 age group (Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tom Davies, Kieran Dowell, Jonjoe Kenny, Mason Holgate, Ademola Lookman). Still, that's the aim here – and it's all excellent news for manager Ronald Koeman.
The Toffees could soon face the same fate as Southampton, whose five U21 call-ups from last season have now graduated beyond the age parameters of international development football, leaving them with just one representative (U18 Jake Voskins) in the latest round of selections.
At the opposite end of the scale, Reading have eight call-ups between the U16 and U17 groups, a tally only beaten by Manchester City (9). In fact, those two are part of a group of four clubs who make up over half the U16 contingent, with Chelsea and Arsenal the other big-hitters in the youngest competitive age group.
The Championship is represented strongly by Fulham, who match the Royals with eight call-ups, closely followed by Nottingham Forest (6) and Ipswich (5). It’s also in the second tier where most of these youngsters are finding first-team football; 19 of the 155 2017/18 Young Lions have played for Championship sides already this term, either at their parent club or on loan.
Only nine of the England youth contingent have picked up minutes in the Premier League, but the concentration of that playing time is Merseyside-focused; Liverpool and Everton account for 813 of the 1,092 Premier League playing minutes afforded to these players in the opening three rounds of fixtures (Calvert-Lewin, Davies, Holgate – Everton; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Solanke, Gomez – Liverpool; Demarai Gray – Leicester; Kyle Walker-Peters – Tottenham; Sam Field – West Brom).
Notable mentions also go to Southend (U17), Fleetwood (U18) and Luton (U20) representing the lower leagues, with one call-up each.
But it's the Premier League big boys who continue to dominate the numbers, accounting for two-thirds of the call-ups.