Fulham’s future looks bright, with thanks to the emerging talent from their impressive youth system.
It is often said that England only win major tournaments when a Fulham player is in the team. In 1966, they had right back George Cohen and in 2017 when the youngsters were winning every tournament going, Fulham’s Steven and Ryan Sessegnon and Tayo Edun all featured heavily for the national side. Russia 2018 may come too early for Ryan Sessegnon although if you go on to the Sky Sports England squad selector he does feature as an option. This season all three have featured for the first team with Ryan playing in every game so far either at left back or as part of a front three, the latter being the position where his long term future definitely lies.
At 17 and a half he is joint top goalscorer on four goals with Stefan Johansen and Oliver Norwood. Included in his total is a hat trick which came against Sheffield United the day after my first article in a 5-4 victory and he became the first championship teenager since Conor Wickham to do so. The big clubs are clamouring for his signature and Ryan has showed his loyalty to a club where he and his brother have been since the age of 8 by signing a contract until 2020.
Whilst a left footer, his twin Steven is a right footer and he too has signed on for three more years. He has featured less often than his brother although Tottenham were trying to tempt him across London as well. The final one is Tayo Edun who has progressed fairly silently compared to his team mates and his versatility has seen him play at left back and in central midfield.
Fulham’s youth system has seen a number of players feature for the first team over the last 18 months such as Matt O’Riley who recently signed a three young extension and has already been tipped by Slavisa Jokanovic to be part of the first team squad in the not too distant future and American Luca de la Torre who has figured a few times in recent weeks for the first team.
Other youngsters who Fulham have high hopes for include Stephen Humphries and Mattias Kait (a full Estonian international who has scored for his national side). Dennis Adeniran another highly rated youngster joined Everton in the Summer. There are a number of other players at Under 18 level who could make the step up over the coming months and the future looks bright and the only hope is that they stay at Fulham but in reality it is only a question of time when Ryan goes and Fulham’s task will be to ensure that they get the best deal to invest in the first team and continuing to develop the younger players. Last season Fulham had two keepers in the Under 18’s, one by the name of Mourinho and one by the name of Schwarzer who were contesting the position although only Schwarzer remains at the club. So all is not lost for Fulham and if the youngsters continue to develop at the rate they are (and Fulham manage to keep hold of them), then a return to the top flight of English football may not be far away.