In the immediate aftermath of a dismal 2014 World Cup campaign in Brazil, England fans had very little to feel optimistic about.
Nine months later, however, the Three Lions sit top of Group E in the Euro 2016 qualification stage, are favourites to qualify, and appear to have unearthed a prolific natural goalscorer in the form of Tottenham’s Harry Kane.
Put simply, 21-year-old Kane has had a remarkable season, netting 35 goals this term for both club and country, including a dream debut goal in senior England colours just last month.
With the 2016 Euros in France fast-approaching, which other English starlets should we expect to see making a push for full international honours over the coming months?
In his maiden season at White Hart Lane, Spurs’ summer signing Eric Dier has taken no time in adjusting to the Premier League, even scoring twice in his first two appearances for the club.
Initially deployed as a right-back by Mauricio Pochettino, most believe that Dier’s future lies in the heart of a back-four, and according to pundit Martin Keown, he could have a big role to play as part of England’s defensive unit for years to come.
With the likes of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones failing to tie down a shirt of their own, there appears to be a window of opportunity for someone of Dier’s profile. Standing at over 6 ft 2 in tall and with a quick turn of pace, the defender certainly has the required physical attributes, while his temperament is yet to be put to the test at the top level.
After a terrific season with Southampton, midfielder James Ward-Prowse is already being linked with a senior England call-up as soon as the U-21 European Championships are over in the summer.
Ward-Prowse captained Gareth Southgate’s England U-21 side to a 3-2 victory over Germany at the end of March, bagging the winning goal in the process.
Following a turbulent summer at Southampton, in which several of the club’s star players moved on, the 20-year-old has impressed many, none more so than England boss Roy Hodgson, with his mature displays in central-midfield for the Saints.
Ward-Prowse has made 24 club appearances this term and his performances are said to have caught the eye of numerous high-profile potential suitors, including Manchester City.
19-year-old winger Jordon Ibe burst into the spotlight just weeks after the turn of the year with some outstanding displays for Liverpool, most notably against Everton in the Merseyside derby.
The Liverpool man was recalled by his parent club after a very successful loan spell during the first-half of the season with Derby County, for whom he netted five times.
Ibe, who is quickly becoming widely revered for his pace, power and creativity, already has England U-18, U-19 and U-20 caps to his name, but remains eligible to represent Nigeria which has made the England management very eager to fast-track him into the senior national set-up.
Ibe will be hoping that a continued rich vein of form will see him subsequently drafted into Hodgson’s plans for England’s fixtures in June.
A graduate of the esteemed Manchester United academy, James Wilson memorably scored twice on his Premier League debut back in May against Hull City.
Wilson is another one to have gradually worked his way through the national youth sides, although Red Devils legend Paul Scholes recently remarked that the young forward must start making more of an impact when Louis Van Gaal offers him the chance.
Wilson has been successfully integrated into United’s senior squad over the last few months, and at 19-years-old it’s time for the striker to start establishing himself as one of the country’s top prospects, whether that’s by playing his football at Old Trafford or elsewhere.
Should Wilson start finding the back of the net with more regularity, you can be sure that there will be calls for his name to be added to the senior England squad.