England pals Maddison, Gunn and Sessegnon - three of a kind on show at Carrow Road
There's an interesting international sub-plot to Norwich City's game against Fulham on Friday, as CHRIS LAKEY reports
Three of English football’s brightest young talents are expected to be on display at Carrow Road on Friday – but will they ever be together again on a Championship team sheet?
Angus Gunn and James Maddison will be up against Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon – it’s an agent’s retirement plan, a surefire winner on Football Manager.
All three have just returned to their clubs from international duty with England Under-21s. And all three are sending rumour mills into over-drive.
Maddison has, according to some, got a £25m price tag. It’s easier to list the Premier League clubs who haven’t been linked with him than list his admirers.
And Sessegnon – just 17 years of age – is rated perhaps even more highly than Maddison. He is a level-headed young man – Under-21s boss Aidy Boothroyd said: “He’s a very humble, impressive young man.” Traits that are often lacking in someone in his line of work.
It may be that Sessegnon’s pacey, attacking style of play in a team that has turned out to be one of the Championship’s most exciting to watch, has thrust him further forward into the spotlight.
Maybe Maddison’s skills aren’t seen quite so brightly, given the rather different tactics employed by Daniel Farke, but he remains an undoubted talent.
Gunn? Norwich fans know a thing or two about good goalkeepers, and in Gunn they have found a new hero.
Trouble is, he’s probably only going to be around for eight more games. Ditto Maddison. Ditto Sessegnon.
It’s a fact of footballing life: good players are always up for sale if the price is right; loan players, if they’re any good, will always be landed with alternative plans by their employers.
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While Maddison, Gunn and Sessegnon seem certain to tread the boards on a Premier League stage, the senior international arena clearly beckons.
This summer’s World Cup has come too soon, although some have suggested Sessegnon could be the surprise selection. Those who have watched Gareth Southgate over the years would suggest he doesn’t do surprises, so best wait for the Euros in two years time for their first major championship appearance.
By that time they will have proven, or otherwise, that they are capable of mixing it with the best this country has to offer, which is the rite of passage for Three Lions cap owners.
Are they capable? Well if England need creativity in midfield (they do) then Maddison is surely a candidate. You only have to look at his range of passing, the way he strikes a ball - dead or moving – to see shades of one D Beckham. It’s one of those “I’ll eat my hat if Maddison doesn’t win 50 caps” challenges.
With Gunn it shouldn’t be forgotten that this remains his first season in competitive football: he has 43 league and cup appearances on his CV, but he has already had a taste of the England senior set-up after being called into the squad last November after Jack Butland broke his finger in training.
Butland, Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope are, arguably the ones Gunn has to get past. They’re good keepers.
But they’re not great keepers. It’s eminently do-able for Gunn.
Sessegnon’s path is perhaps blocked by the very-much-in-favour Raheem Sterling, but such is his versatility that no matter how you configure it, he could play a left-sided role behind the Manchester City man.
Whatever the future holds for all three young men, their futures look bright. Perhaps best look and enjoy on Friday and then, in a couple of years time you can say... “I was at Carrow Road just before the World Cup when...”