What does Adam Wharton bring to England's Euro 2024 squad?


What does Adam Wharton bring to England's Euro 2024 squad?

Wharton is heading to his first international tournment
Wharton is heading to his first international tournmentAFP
Crystal Palace's Adam Wharton (20) was a surprise inclusion in England's final 26-man squad for Euro 2024, just five months on from playing in the EFL Championship with Blackburn Rovers.

The midfielder has had a meteoric rise since moving to the Premier League in February and will be heading to Germany with the Three Lions; taking a spot in the final squad ahead of the likes of Jordan Henderson, James Maddison and James Ward-Prowse.

Wharton's place in the starting side isn't set in stone, with fierce competition from both Manchester United's Kobbie Mainoo and Liverpool talent Trent Alexander-Arnold - but the youngster can perhaps bring a balance to England's midfield that others don't provide.

Here, Flashscore takes a look at the midfielder's rapid rise and what he could bring to Gareth Southgate's team this summer.

Wharton's career so far
Wharton's career so farFlashscore

Learning in the EFL

Wharton's career began with Blackburn Rovers in the Championship, joining at six years old.

The youngster broke into the first team during the 2022/23 season and featured fairly regularly throughout a campaign that saw the Lancashire club finish just outside the play-off places.

He properly cemented himself in the senior squad during the first part of the 2023/24 campaign and became a mainstay in a team initially battling for a top-six spot before slipping down the table towards the end of the year.

Wharton was a shining light alongside mercurial forward Sammie Szmodics during a poor run of form for Blackburn, still putting in consistent performances from the base of midfield despite the rest of the side's struggles.

That sort of environment hardened the midfielder early in his career and saw him quickly develop in one of the most physically demanding leagues in the world.

Then-manager Jon Dahl Tomasson described Wharton as a Champions League-level talent and even predicted his England call-up.

"On the ball he’s Champions League level, off the ball he's learned a lot. But he’s not the final version of Adam Wharton yet so we will see," Tomasson told Blackburn's media team.

"He’s a great lad, I remember last year sitting at home with his parents drinking tea to discuss his development. Now he’s a first-team player and I believe he’ll be an England player."

Another helping hand in his quick growth was playing alongside his older brother Scott Wharton, who was also a member of Blackburn's senior squad.

The Wharton brothers (Adam L, Scott R) line up for Blackburn ahead of Adam's professional debut
The Wharton brothers (Adam L, Scott R) line up for Blackburn ahead of Adam's professional debutProfimedia

His impressive showings earned him various call-ups to England's youth sides before Crystal Palace swooped in late in the winter transfer window, picking up one of the EFL's best young talents for a reported initial fee of £18 million.

The fact that Wharton secured a Premier League move - and now an England cap - barely two years after signing his first professional contract is a testament to his rapid rise into senior football.

Propelling Palace forward

Wharton arrived at a Palace side ravaged by injuries and just two weeks after joining, then-manager Roy Hodgson was taken ill at training and would step down from his role four days later; opening the door for current head coach Oliver Glasner to come in.

Wharton was thrust into the first team straight away and has started all but one game since moving to the Premier League, with his debut coming from the bench in a 4-1 defeat against rivals Brighton.

After quickly adapting to his new surroundings - a theme throughout his career so far - the midfielder established himself as an integral part of Palace's team.

Wharton (L) gets stuck in against Newcastle
Wharton (L) gets stuck in against NewcastleProfimedia

His impressive forward passing and ability to keep possession helped the Eagles turn around a poor run of form, winning six of their last 10 games last season.

Particularly noteworthy showings came in a 1-0 win against Liverpool and a 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United with the young talent excelling in both matches.

Across his 16 Premier League appearances, Wharton has averaged a 7.0 Flashscore player rating and picked up three assists from the base of Palace's midfield; catching the eye of England manager Southgate in the process.

While his playmaking stats are impressive, his defensive contributions equally stand out - something that has developed since his move to the Premier League.

Wharton averaged three tackles, 4.8 recoveries, 1.5 clearances and 1.2 interceptions per game - highlighting a well-roundedness that England's other midfield options (aside from Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham) perhaps don't have.

A promising England debut

Following a superb second half to the 2023/24 campaign, Wharton earned a call-up to England's senior squad for the first time as part of the provisional 33-man side ahead of Euro 2024.

Not many would have expected him to make the final 26-man selection, until a standout debut cameo in a 3-0 win against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Wharton was introduced on 62 minutes, taking Alexander-Arnold's spot in midfield with the score at 1-0.

He quickly demonstrated his excellent passing abilities and allowed England to turn their dominant possession into actual threatening attacks; completing all 37 of his attempted passes, two of which were key balls to his teammates.

The midfielder changed the game after taking to the field and the Three Lions would go on to net two more goals during Wharton's time on the pitch.

Interestingly, he was left out of the next match against Iceland, which ended in a 1-0 defeat with just one shot on target for Southgate's side.

What's in store this summer?

Wharton's rapid rise into senior football has seen him quickly develop from an exciting EFL talent to one of the most promising players in the Premier League.

His standout passing ability is something England sorely lack in midfield, with the Three Lions looking to fill a gap between Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham.

Wharton is England's only left-footed midfielder too - if you wanted even more balance - while also standing at six feet tall, which enables him to provide an aerial threat in both boxes.

He can also offer solid defensive cover if needed and potentially give Rice more license to roam forward when the opportunity arises.

Palace's young star looks to be an excellent fit for the final midfield spot in the side but will have to contest with Mainoo and Alexander-Arnold - who both possess abilities that warrant a chance in the team as well.

His age and relative lack of experience on the big stage could work against him (as well as Mainoo) and it appears that Alexander-Arnold will be handed a starting berth in midfield, although Southgate is yet to reveal what his favoured combination will be.

Maybe Euro 2024 will come too soon for Wharton to establish himself as a first-choice starter but he has a bright future ahead of him for club and country.

Follow the Three Lions' Euro 2024 campaign here with Flashscore.

Ali Pollock
Ali PollockFlashscore UK


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