We have welcomed a new year, a new decade and those of us with allegiances to England (potentially still all the home nations) are looking ahead to one of the most anticipated international tournaments in recent times.
It may be a few years too early for any of the ‘keepers in this list to surpass Jordan Pickford as England’s number one, but with Tom Heaton out for the rest of the season, there is likely to be a goalkeeper-shaped space in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the European Championships.
Whether they have international aspirations or not, these youngsters have a pivotal year in store and shape up the next decade.
Middlesbrough have not suffered as much as feared with the injury to Darren Randolph and have in fact enjoyed an up-turn in fortunes recently, winning four of their last five Championship games and earning a replay with Tottenham in the FA Cup.
Aynsley Pears did not start in the latter, but has been tremendous in ‘Boro’s surge to mediocrity from relegation trouble in the Championship table claiming three consecutive clean sheets over the festive period.
The son of Stephen Pears, a legendary ‘Boro goalkeeper himself, Aynsley has enjoyed successful loan spells at Gateshead and Hartlepool and was on the verge of another move away from The Riverside, before an injury to star man Darren Randolph would require him to stay put.
The 21 year-old made his debut in a Carabao Cup tie with Crewe back in August, and as a result of Randolph being ruled out for the foreseeable, he would be thrust into the limelight in the Championship away to Sheffield Wednesday, keeping a clean sheet in a goalless draw at Hillsborough.
His ‘pier de resistance’ was a recent 2-0 victory away to West Brom in December, keeping a free-scoring West Brom side at bay, pulling off magnificent saves from the likes of Charlie Austin and Jay Rodriguez.
Pears has come from relative obscurity to one of the hottest young goalkeeping talents around and as number one Darren Randolph edges closer to a move to West Ham, don’t be surprised to see the ‘Boro boy catching the eye even more in 2020.
Dean Henderson is already winning plaudits for his contribution to Sheffield United’s phenomenal inaugural season back in the Premier League, but the Manchester United loanee could be in for an even bigger year.
David De Gea signed a six-year contract back in June, but if United again fail to land a Champions League qualification spot, they could have another struggle on their hands to keep a hold of the Spaniard.
Although Sergio Romero may have a say, Henderson may well be De Gea’s heir to the number one jersey and a continuation of his form will give the Old Trafford hierarchy something to think about over the summer in regards to the 22 year-old’s future.
A mainstay in the England set up through the junior year groups, Henderson won his first call-up the senior side for the Euro 2020 Qualifiers with the Czech Republic and Bulgariaback in October following an injury to Tom Heaton.
Heaton has recently suffered another injury, this ruling him out for the remainder of the season and effectively vacating a space for another goalkeeper in the squad. Henderson’s current trajectory would make him a shoo-in for Gareth Southgate’s squad.
2020 could be a career defining year for Dean Henderson.
The son of Bryan Gunn, the Norwich City legend and member of their famous UEFA Cup run of 1993/1984, Angus has a lot to live up to and the next couple of years will be a good indication of whether he can live up to or exceed these expectations.
Gunn Jr has been highly-rated from a very tender age, enough for Manchester City to bring him to the Etihad in 2011, but has since had a loan spell at hometown club Norwich and last year joined Southampton in pursuit of first team prospects.
The Saints shelled out a healthy £13.5 million for Gunn in the summer of 2018, such was his form at Norwich and his reputation as one of the brightest young goalkeeping prospects in the country.
Gunn has had to battle with countryman Alex McCarthy for the number one spot at St Mary’s and since his league debut and an impressive display in a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge in January last year.
Despite his father representing Scotland, Gunn has opted to play for his native country and has been part of full England training camps, as well as being part of the youth setup right up to the Under-21 side.
With Alex McCarthy on his coat-tails, Gunn will have to grab any opportunity gets at St Mary’s to have a chance of being involved in Gareth Southgate’s squad, but he certainly has the potential.