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Finding England's next prolific goal scorer: Mission impossible?

Could Harry Kane come close to matching Wayne Rooney's record goal tally for England?
Could Harry Kane come close to matching Wayne Rooney's record goal tally for England?

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.

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