It’s easy to say that with the number of foreign players increasingly being bought by ambitious Premier League clubs, the amount of homegrown English talent is dwindling because of it. It’s not even a result of those English players moving abroad either. In fact, with the exception of Ashley Cole and Micah Richards plying their trade in Italy’s Serie A and Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard soon to be moving stateside, the majority of the best English-bred players play right at home. That said, there is still plenty of talent within the current crop of English players that have been playing at the same level as their foreign counterparts, and with that in mind, we’ll be counting down the top 10 English players so far in the 2014-15 Premier League season.
Although the order of this list might be a little bit subjective, you can’t be in any doubt about the form this season of some of the English national team’s mainstays (Wayne Rooney, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck) and especially the form of some newcomers (Harry Kane, Charlie Austin, Danny Ings). The latter three in particular have been in blistering form as far as goal-scoring is concerned, with Kane in particular netting 21 goals in 26 games in all competitions for a Tottenham Hotspur side that could still challenge for a place in the Champions League next season. Despite the league being largely home to marquee players from other countries in Europe, Africa and South America, there’s still plenty of top-level homegrown talent to be found.
Long story short, homegrown English footballers are still playing at the highest level and succeeding, even if there could be more of them playing regularly. Here are the top 10 English footballers in the Premier League based on their performances so far this season.
10 Joe Hart - Manchester City
Manchester City may have to spend the rest of the season playing catch-up with Chelsea for the Premier League title, but their keeper Joe Hart has had a solid season so far. He might not have gotten the plaudits received by Thibaut Courtois or David de Gea over the course of this season, but Hart has done plenty well for himself, getting nine clean sheets within 30 games in all competitions. While he’s been doing decently well this season, England’s upcoming Euro 2016 qualifying fixtures will be when Hart – who can be prone to mistakes at his worst – really needs to be at his best.
9 Stewart Downing - West Ham
With five goals and seven games in 25 appearances so far for West Ham, Stewart Downing is in great form so far this season in ways that he was never able to produce for Liverpool during his time at Anfield. It may not be enough for him to really be considered for the English national setup again, or for the Hammers to finish towards the upper half of the Premier League top 10 at the end of the season, but Downing’s accurate passing and technique has helped West Ham to go further up the table than many had predicted prior to this season.
8 Danny Ings - Burnley
One would have hardly expected a team like Burnley to possess a consistent goal-scorer, but so far, Danny Ings has been exactly that. Although the club is currently in a tight race to avoid being relegated at the end of the season, the 22-year-old Ings has been putting up points at a pretty good pace, with nine goals and four assists in 23 appearances. His performances this season has led to rumours that Ings will sign with Liverpool at season’s end. If Burnley do indeed get relegated, a move to a bigger club – even if it’s not Liverpool – is just about inevitable.
7 Charlie Austin - Queen's Park Rangers
A similar case to Ings, but with even more goals scored so far this season, is Queen’s Park Rangers striker Charlie Austin. Despite playing for a team that seems to perpetually be in a race to avoid being dropped down to the Championship, Austin has been scoring at quite an exciting pace, with 14 goals in 23 appearances, including a hat trick in December in a win against West Bromwich Albion. Just like Ings, Charlie Austin has been linked to sign with Liverpool after the season, but he has also apparently been in talks with QPR over extending his contract.
6 Nathaniel Clyne - Southampton
One team that has been surprisingly consistent as far as staying within the realm of a possible Champions League spot for next season is Southampton, and one of the team's biggest components is arguably its right-back, Nathaniel Clyne. His performances for the Saints this season have been fantastic as a member of a club with a reputation of sorts for developing young English talent. Because of this, Southampton will likely be looking to keep him despite reports that contract talks have been stalling and that Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are looking to make a swoop for him in the summer.
5 Leighton Baines - Everton
Despite underwhelming performances for an England squad that crashed out of the 2014 World Cup group stage, Leighton Baines remains as important as ever for an Everton squad that has definitely struggled at times over the course of this Premier League season. Still arguably one of the better left-backs in the Premier League, Baines has recently returned from a knee injury for the last few games, but will be expected to help lead the Toffees to a much more respectable finish than their current 12th place as the season starts winding down with only 12 games left as of late February.
4 Danny Welbeck - Arsenal
The loss of a homegrown Manchester United player to Arsenal raised eyebrows at the time the transfer happened, but as far as Danny Welbeck’s play this year is concerned, the Red Devils’ loss has been the Gunners’ gain. The 24-year-old has played strong both in offensive and defensive areas of the game, with seven goals and two assists in 24 games in all competitions – three of which came from four games in the Champions League. He might have competition up front in the form of Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud, but Welbeck’s still one of the most consistently good English players this season.
3 Raheem Sterling - Liverpool
He’s only 20, but the heights he’s reached so far with Liverpool as well as England are more reflective of a player who should be in his prime in the middle of his 20s. Raheem Sterling has been in very good form for the Reds this season, with seven goals and six assists in 31 games in all competitions so far. Despite ongoing negotiations over his contract to keep him at Anfield, Sterling has been linked as of late to a move to Real Madrid. Even if he doesn’t move there, it’s a sign that Sterling’s profile is continuing to rise at a rapid rate.
2 Wayne Rooney - Manchester United
Say what you will about Wayne Rooney, you still quite simply cannot understate his importance both to Manchester United and the England national setup. His season with United so far is no different, with nine goals and four assists in 25 games within both the Premier League season and the FA Cup. Although his season has been met with controversy – eg. his contentious means of earning a penalty kick against Preston North End during the FA Cup – the Manchester United captain is as vital to both club and country as he’s ever been. Whether or not his play can carry over to England’s upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers in March remains to be seen.
1 Harry Kane - Tottenham Hotspur
Despite Piers Morgan claiming that Harry Kane wouldn’t even make the bench at Arsenal, the striker’s been silencing his doubters in extreme fashion playing for the Gunners’ fiercest rivals. The goal number is staggering: 22 goals in 28 overall appearances for Tottenham Hotspur this season, and his play has shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, Roy Hodgson has already confirmed that Kane will be called up for the first time to the England national side for their next international fixture, even if it means being on the bench at least for the start of the match. With his blistering form this season, you could argue that it was a long time coming.