He’s only made 8 appearances as a professional but Crystal Palace academy graduate Aaron Wan-Bissaka is said to be on the verge of earning his first call-up to the England U21 set-up ahead of the first scheduled international break at the start of September.
Despite being practically unknown to anyone outside of the Palace youth ranks at the start of 2018, the 20-year-old has gone from strength to strength since being thrown into the first-team spotlight by Roy Hodgson at the back-end of February.
Initially brought in as cover during a desperate injury crisis, Wan-Bissaka coped remarkably well on his full debut at home to Tottenham, before going on to impress in the following two games against no less than Manchester United and Chelsea. The Eagles lost all three by infuriatingly narrow margins before Aaron got his first taste of victory in a 2-0 away win over Huddersfield in March.
Starts against Liverpool, Bournemouth and West Brom followed to end the 2017/18 season, prompting the gaffer to keep faith with him on the opening day of the campaign away at Fulham last weekend, where he topped off a fine defensive display with an eyebrow-raising assist for Wilfried Zaha’s late strike.
At first, most if not all Palace fans expected Joel Ward to regain his place in the starting XI as soon as he returned to match fitness but in truth, it’s proven impossible for Hodgson to drop Wan-Bissaka, so impressive have his performances been on the right-hand side.
Admittedly, eight appearances is far from enough to form a full judgement on a player’s strengths and weaknesses but if he continues improving at his current rate, he’ll be seen as one of the best full-backs in the Premier League next May. With that in mind, it’s little surprise to learn that Aidy Boothroyd is keen to involve him in the next U21 squad; let’s just hope those behind the scenes at the FA don’t make the same mistakes when first encountering a young Wilfried Zaha.