Ben Godfrey: England's next star defender?
Godfrey in action for England Under-20s (Photo: Getty Images)

After the summer success of 2018, England's off-season period during the warmer months of 2019 have been a throwback to the past. Tournaments that promise so much but eventually deliver so little.

For the first time in around two decades, the national team went into a senior competition with a real chance of coming home with silverware. Yet a defensive shambles against Netherlands in the Nations League semi-finals, underpinned by errors from John Stones and Ross Barkley, emphasised a familiar problem in Gareth Southgate's squad.

Similarly, the Under-21s went to the European Championships with an extremely talented England squad boasting a raft of Premier League and Championship talent. However, Aidy Boothroyd's hopefuls limped to an early exit with just one point accrued and nine goals conceded in three matches. More errors in defence costing the nation on the biggest stages.

Perhaps it is time for some new blood? Could the situation open the door for a player barely recognised above League One this time, last year? Does Ben Godfrey provide the future?

Sharp rise

Norwich City snapped up the young central defender in January 2016 from then League Two side York City after playing just 15 senior games. Godfrey went on to be a regular figure of the Under-23s but became a part of the first team squad just seven months into his tenure, making his debut at the age of 18.

He would go on loan to League One side Shrewsbury Town at the beginning of the 2017-18 season, initially for the first half of the campaign. Yet Godfrey performed so well that the deal was extended until the end of the season in a Shrewsbury side that defied expectations to reach the play-off final.

His performances clearly impressed manager Daniel Farke and Godfrey was propelled back into the Norwich first team reckoning at the beginning of last season. He would form a commanding partnership with Christoph Zimmermann, widely regarded as one of the most organised pairings in the second tier last year.

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Biggest season of his career

36 appearances on and Godfrey has become the latest in a long line of Norwich stars to be rewarded with a new contract. The 21-year old committing his future for four years with an option of a fifth.

And Godfrey can't wait to get back to work, telling the Official Norwich website: “There’s only so long you can go without a ball at your feet before you get a little bit bored. I miss the boys, I miss training everyday and I miss the atmosphere around the training ground.

I’m now looking forward to getting back to working hard."

An Under-20 international with two appearances to his name, this could be Godfrey's breakthrough season at Premier League level and beyond.