McEachran's talent needs time to develop, says Sturridge

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The Independent Football

Daniel Sturridge has no doubt that fellow Chelsea youngster Josh McEachran will be an England star of the future – if he is allowed to develop at his own pace.

The 18-year-old made his first-team debut in the Champions League win over Zilina in September, becoming the first player younger than the competition itself to make an appearance, and has not looked back since.

McEachran has played six times in the Premier League and earned rave reviews from the England Under-21 manager, Stuart Pearce, after making his full debut against Italy last month.

Sturridge, who will mentor a young player as part of Disney XD's Aim High initiative, has seen McEachran's talents at close quarters on many occasions, and he is certain the teenager has what it takes.

The 21-year-old said: "He's a great friend of mine and I can't talk highly enough of him in every aspect. But I don't want everyone to put too much pressure on him. He's only 18 and he needs to be given time to grow up and to gain experience. He's a fantastic player with unbelievable talent and he's going to be a hugely important player for Chelsea and England in the future."

McEachran has positioned himself at the head of a pack emerging from the Chelsea youth team.

The Premier League champions have been criticised in the past for not putting enough emphasis on nurturing home-grown talent, and Sturridge is thrilled that that now appears to be happening. "That side of the club has come on hugely this year," he said. "One of the main priorities this year was to give young players an opportunity to play in the Premier League and it's fantastic that that's happened."

Sturridge, too, has impressed when given an opportunity by the Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti, and that promise encouraged Bolton's manager, Owen Coyle, to take the striker on loan in January.

His start to life at the Reebok Stadium could not have been better, with three goals in as many games, and Sturridge hailed the impact made by his new manager.

"He's helped me a lot," said the former Manchester City youngster. "He's told me just to go out and play my game and enjoy myself, and that's what I've tried to do.

"I've settled in great. I've been made to feel so welcome and I'm just happy to be part of things here and to be playing regular football.

"The main thing for me is to be able to say I've played more regularly and that I've started Premier League games. Gaining experience is the most important thing and getting the confidence to know you're good enough to play at this level."

Sturridge's form has already had Coyle touting him for full England honours sooner rather than later.

The striker has represented his country at every age group from Under-16 to Under-21, and he is hoping Bolton can help him to make the last step. He said: "The key thing is to be playing regularly and to give people the chance to see what you can do.

"Of course, I'll try to impress as much as I can. It's always been my dream to play for the England team and, hopefully, one day my dream will come true."

The England manager, Fabio Capello, appears to be looking towards the next generation, with teenager Jack Wilshere given his full debut against Denmark and Kyle Walker included in the squad. Sturridge added: "It's hugely encouraging to see them getting that opportunity; it shows it can be done. Hopefully, that'll be the case for me in the future."

Daniel Sturridge is mentoring for Disney XD’s Aim High, which offers fans the chance to take part in one-on-one mentorships. For more information visit www.disneyxd.co.uk/aimhigh



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