Finding England's next prolific goal scorer: Mission impossible?
When Wayne Rooney scored his 50th international goal in the European Championship qualifier against Croatia last month, he might not just overtaken Sir Bobby Charlton as England's all-time leading goalscorer -- he may also have become the country's last prolific international striker.
Only seven other English players have scored 30-plus goals at international level, and they represent a select group: Tom Finney/Nat Lofthouse in the 1950s; Jimmy Greaves/Bobby Charlton in the '60s; Gary Lineker in the '80s; Alan Shearer in the '90s; and Michael Owen joining Rooney in the 21st century.
Beyond the rare elite skill set and high-level ability required to become a lethal international forward, there is another challenge that makes the prospect of finding England's next prolific goalscorer even more difficult: today's game and youth system. It is doubtful Rooney's goal record tally for England will ever be broken, not the way the game is structured at the moment.
Here's a look at the factors and challenges that go into developing a top-tier goalscorer on the international level and an evaluation of England's capped youngsters and prospects in the pipeline who have an outside chance to fill that role....