English Abroad XI 2015/16

With many leagues across Europe beginning this month, it would seem appropriate to look at the players set to stand out this season.

To do this, I have selected an English Abroad dream team. The best 18 players who begin their campaigns this month.

XI 15
Goalkeeper: Matt Jones, 28 (Tondela) After three seasons with Belenenses in Portugal, the former West Brom youth player has joined fellow Primeira Liga side Tondela on loan. Tondela earned promotion from the country’s second tier last year so Matt Jones is set to be busy this year. However, he has two seasons of experience in the country’s premier division now which will be vital as he looks to earn safety with his new side.

Left back: Ashley Cole, 34 (AS Roma) England legend Ashley Cole found minutes difficult to come by last year, making just eleven league starts in his first season abroad. More chances on the pitch are possible this year though, as José Holebas, the man Cole was competing for left back with last year, has left the club to join Watford. The 34-year-old will be hoping to impose himself in Italy this season.

Centre back: Taylor Moore, 18 (RC Lens) Young defender Moore only made his first team debut in May, starting Lens’ last four games of the season. Unfortunately, the England youth international could not prevent his side suffering relegation to the second tier. As the saying goes though, every cloud does have a silver lining for Moore, who will now have more regular playing opportunities with his side in Ligue 2. He already has one clean sheet under his belt, after playing 90 minutes in Lens’ first game of the season last weekend.

Centre back: Charlie I’Anson, 22 (Elche) This season is set to be an interesting one for the former Grimsby defender. Last year was an unsettled one for I’Anson. After a promising start, making eight starts for second tier club Alcorcón on loan from Elche, he lost his place in the side and dropped down a division for more regular playing opportunities. The move came at the perfect time however, with I’Anson making twelve appearances as he helped Real Oviedo to the Segunda B title. The victory was a much needed confidence boost for the defender, known as Charlie in Spain, and he will now make a push to stake his claim back in Elche’s first team after their relegation from La Liga last season.

Right back: Todd Kane, 21 (NEC, on loan from Chelsea) After four domestic loan deals, Kane has followed the well-trodden route of many a Chelsea youth player and made the move to Holland – except the right back has not joined Vitesse. Instead, the former Nottingham Forest loanee has joined newly promoted side NEC Nijmegen for the upcoming season. The former England U19 international has spent the majority of the last three seasons on loan at Championship clubs and with first team chances limited at Stamford Bridge, the move to Holland will provide vital first team experience outside of the comfort zone of England and even Vitesse.

Left midfield: Andrew Driver, 27 (De Graafschap) After just one game back in Britain for Aberdeen, Andrew Driver is on the move abroad again, this time agreeing a deal with another of Eredivisie’s newly-promoted sides De Graafschap. Driver is no stranger to playing overseas, having spent two seasons as a regular at Houston Dynamo, although the move to Holland will provide a new culture. Driver will be looking for his first goal since May 2013 this season, having failed to score all last year.

Centre midfield: John Bostock, 23 (OH Leuven) After two seasons in Belgium’s second division, John Bostock is back playing top tier football again after the most successful season in his career helped OH Leuven to promotion. Big things are expected of the former Tottenham Hotspur wonder-kid this year, after scoring 11 goals in 26 games from midfield last season and it will be intriguing to see if he can make the step-up. Leuven have had a tricky start to the new season, losing their first two games – despite Bostock starting both.

Centre midfield: Chuks Aneke, 22 (Zulte Waregem) Partnering his Belgian Pro League colleague in the centre of the park, former Arsenal player Chuks Aneke had a mixed start to life abroad. 38 appearances in all competitions was an impressive return for a player who had previously never played top flight football. However from the point of view of his new club, the season was very disappointing as as Zulte Waregem dropped from 4th place to 12th in one season. The club will be looking for improvement this year and Aneke could be catalyst as he looks to add to the four goals he managed last season.

Right midfield: Izzy Brown, 18 (Vitesse, on loan from Chelsea) Another of the English contingent in Holland, Izzy Brown will be looking for regular first team football at Vitesse, having made just one league appearance for Chelsea since joining from West Brom in 2013. The England U19 international started both games as his new side were knocked out of the Europa League by Southampton recently and will hope to stay in the line-up going into the league campaign. Blessed with immense potential, José Mourinho said that he should be blamed if Brown were not to become a senior England international under his management.

Attacking midfield: Ravel Morrison, 22 (Lazio) The pinnacle of all mercurial talents, Ravel Morrison has a lot to prove this season. The move to Italy could be perfect for Ravel; away from the distractions of home where he can finally concentrate on rediscovering the form he displayed at West Ham that had everyone talking. However, cementing a place in the Lazio starting eleven will not be easy, despite firing a brace in a pre-season game for the Italian giants. 2015/16 is a massive season for one of the stars of England’s future.

Striker: Dominic Solanke, 17 (Vitesse, on loan from Chelsea) With over a month to go before his 18th birthday, Dominic Solanke is one of the most exciting prospects to emerge from England in the past decade. At the tender age of 17, the young forward has a chance to replicate his prolific goalscoring form in a top division after he joined Vitesse earlier this week. The striker fired an astonishing 12 goals in just 9 games last season for Chelsea U19s in the UEFA Youth League and he also has a total of 24 goals at various youth levels for England. Solanke is definitely one to watch this season.

Substitutes
Goalkeeper: Luke Steele, 30 (Panathinaikos)
Experienced ‘keeper, a regular in Greece.
Left back: James Lawrence, 22 (Trenčín) 
Can also play in midfield, won league and cup double last year.
Left back: Jordan Mustoe, 24 (Westerlo) Former Wigan player will be looking to build on a solid first season in Belgium.
Centre back: Myles Anderson, 24 (L’Aquila)
Has dropped down from Serie A for more playing opportunities. 
Centre midfield: Lewis Baker, 20 (Vitesse, on loan from Chelsea)
England U20 captain started both Europa League games against Southampton
Striker: Gary Noel, 25 (First Vienna)
Has been prolific in Austria’s third tier.
Striker: Osayamen Osawe, 21 (Hallescher)
Former Blackburn youngster had a good start to life in Germany last season with seven goals.

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