Meet The History Boys: England U20s

11th June 2017 marks a momentous day in English football as the Under-20s will compete in a World Cup final for the very first time in history.

England XI

A second half-blitz in the semi-final proved too much for Italy as England secured a place in the U20 World Cup final for the first time ever.

Two goals from top-scorer Dominic Solanke and the ever impressive Ademola Lookman ensured Riccardo Orsolini's early effort was made obsolete as the Young Lions roared to an excellent 3-1 victory.

The euphoria of such an incredible achievement rippled through social media as English fans fell in love with this proclaimed 'Golden Generation'. And rightly so.

England's history makers are a very talented bunch.

Not losing a single game on their way to the final in Korea, Paul Simpson has put together a balanced, organised and attacking squad that deserves its place in the history books.


In fact, Simpson has used every player — apart from third-choice goalkeeper Luke Southwood — at least once in the run in to the final. Tactical flexibility, rotation due to injury and suspension; each squad member has played a role in reaching England's first World Cup final in 51 years.

With that in mind, we're breaking down England's possible starting XI for their historic match, giving you all the information you need before Sunday's groundbreaking final.

Meet The History Boys...

GK: Freddie Woodman

Age: 20
Club: Newcastle


Woodman has only missed one game in Korea. Dean Henderson stepped in against Guinea, and perhaps due to the own-goal blunder has not returned since.

The Newcastle 'keeper has made 15 saves in his five games and only conceded two. He also has a penalty stop to his name despite the rebound being converted.

Woodman has looked confident and assured and his presence is definitely a positive on the rest of the England defence.

Tournament Rating = 7/10

RB: Jonjoe Kenny

Age: 20
Club: Everton


Kenny has the joint-most assists (2) for England in Korea and has been one of the standout players in the tournament, let alone for his own national side.

Playing every minute of every game, constantly galloping forward down the right means he has probably spent more time in the opposition half than his own. His overlapping runs are frequent and penetrative and he has proven to be an excellent outlet out wide.

Tournament Rating = 8.5/10

RCB: Fikayo Tomori

Age: 19
Club: Chelsea


Tomori is another who has played every minute for England at this tournament. He recovered from his calamitous own-goal against Guinea and forms a solid duo with Clarke-Salter.

Playing on the right-hand side when partnered with his Chelsea teammate, this subtle difference seems to have a significant impact on his confidence. Very much the ball-winner of the two, his recovery pace and physicality has been key. When stationed on the left alongside Fry he has looked slightly less assured.

Tournament Rating = 6/10

LCB: Jake Clarke-Salter (Dael Fry)

Age: 19 (19)
Club: Chelsea (Middlesbrough)

There is no doubt England have looked more solid and composed with Clarke-Salter in the side.

His understanding with fellow Chelsea teammate Fikayo Tomori is evident and has played an important role in maintaining an organised back line. England's #6 has also looked comfortable bringing the ball out and helping build attacks from the defence.

Dael Fry played three games in between the second game and the semi-final and whilst he certainly did nothing wrong, it’s likely Clarke-Salter will keep his place on Sunday.

Tournament Rating = 6.5/10 (6/10)

LB: Kyle Walker-Peters

Age: 20
Club: Tottenham Hostpur


A right-back by trade, Walker-Peters has come in on the opposite flank and looked a natural, albeit in rather unorthodox fashion.

Seen cutting inside and drifting infield more than overlapping on the touchline, his forays inside have been far from detrimental to his wing-partner nor overcrowding the middle of the pitch. He has been an asset to the attack, no matter where he happens to pop up.

Everton’s Callum Connolly had struggled in the opening two games, looking far less comfortable in what was also an unfamiliar opinion for him. Walker-Peters' introduction has been inspired and will be eager to impress once again in the final.

Tournament Rating = 7/10

RCM: Lewis Cook

Age: 20
Club: Bournemouth


Restricted in Premier League playing time mainly because of Jack Wilshere’s high-profile loan move, Cook has shown in Korea that there can't be any doubt about his talent.

Also with a joint-high two assists, the centre-midfielder has shown a full-range of passing, all of which have been accurate, intelligent and inspired. An imperious presence in midfield, he is the primary playmaker but has proven equally as capable of dominating the game should a more physical approach be required.

Cook's pass to Solanke for the decisive goal against Mexico was delightful - a word that can quite easily be used to describe his entire tournament.

Tournament Rating = 8.5/10

LCM: Josh Onomah (Ainsley Maitland-Niles)

Age: 20 (19)
Club: Tottenham Hotspur (Arsenal)

The North-London duo have been swapped in and out due to suspension and rotation but it is the Spurs man who is no doubt first-choice.

Onomah's responsibility revolves around winning the ball, carrying it and keeping it. Very much the legs in midfield, a dynamic force alongside the composed pass-master Lewis Cook.

Paul Simpson’s midfield paradigm is perfectly constructed and balance is maintained even when Maitland-Niles steps in. Onomah's red card in the quarter-final bordered on ridiculous and he will be delighted to have another chance to put an actual stamp on the tournament – pun intended.

Tournament Rating = 6.5/10 (6.0/10)

RW: Kieran Dowell (Sheyi Ojo)


Age: 19 (19)
Club: Everton (Liverpool)

Another local Premier League rivalry comes to the fore but this time in the wide position.

Dowell was excellent in the group stages, perhaps England’s best player, and has deserved his starting place after a goal and two assists. Sheyi Ojo, however, was the catalyst for England’s semi-final win.


The Liverpool speedster came on and changed the game with his pacy and direct running - a contrast to Dowell’s measured and intricate approach - and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see play a similar cameo role in the final.

Tournament Rating = 8.0/10 (7.0/10)

LW: Ademola Lookman

Age: 19
Club: Everton


Highlighted as one of England’s key players in our semi-final preview, Lookman did not disappoint.

The Everton winger has even been used upfront at times but has looked the most dangerous when picking the ball up from deep and coming in from wide areas. He excels with the ball at his feet and using him upfront means his time on it becomes limited.

The 19-year-old uses his pace and excellent dribbling ability to carry the ball forward and persistently attack defenders. Audacious nutmegs and superb close control characterised his brilliant semi-final performance and he has three goals to his name, scoring both in England's 2-1 last-16 triumph against Costa Rica.

Tournament Rating = 8.5/10

CF: Dominic Solanke

Age: 19
Club: Liverpool


Receiving rave reviews for his brace against Italy, there is no doubt Solanke is a quality player. Whether he deserves all the praise, however, is questionable.

Solanke's four-goal tally is one greater than Lookman who has arguably had a greater effect throughout the tournament. Nevertheless, the new Liverpool signing has a knack of drifting around a game with very few touches before finding the net after an incisive piece of movement or killer first touch - certainly not a bad trait to have.

His composed finishing has been essential to England’s progression to the final and he is enjoying his shadow-striker No.10 role in Simpson's set up. It just seems sensible to curb the distorted enthusiasm that has manifested from his four goals.

Tournament Rating = 7.5/10

ST: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Adam Armstrong)

Age: 19 (20)
Club: Everton (Newcastle)


Paul Simpson has opted for a pacy point-man throughout the tournament, alternating between Calvert-Lewin and Armstrong most often.

The Everton forward — seen playing on the wing in the Premier League last season — has looked a threat because of his sheer pace, getting on the scoresheet against Argentina and providing an assist for Lookman’s second against Costa Rica.

Although Armstrong is perhaps not *as* fast, he is nevertheless still quick and it is his intelligent movement that separates him from the rest of the England strikers.

After his goal against Argentina in the opening game, the floodgates were expected to open but he has since missed guilt-edge opportunities and it was Calvert-Lewin's pure speed that was preferred against Italy.

Armstrong can cause any defender in the tournament problems on his day but may find any contribution he makes to the final will have to be from the bench.

Tournament Rating = 6.5/10 (6/10)


In our semi-final preview we earmarked Venezuela as tournament favourites. Even though England looked formidable in the semi-final — and have done in every game bar their draw with Guinea — La Vintotinto have appeared more so.


If Paul Simpson's side line up the way we expect them to then they will definitely prove the greatest challenge yet to Venezuela's solid defence.

Lewis Cook's battle with Yangel Herrera will be intriguing whilst the match itself may be decided by which side's electric wide-players can make the decisive difference.

England Final XI

All signs point towards an incredible U20 World Cup final. Whatever happens though, it will be historic.

By @JakeEntwistle.

ScoutedFootball (@ScoutedFtbl) will be providing full coverage of Sunday's final on Twitter. Be sure to follow @JakeEntwistle who will in fact be at the game in Suwon.