With the World Cup squad selection only weeks away, it's likely two of England's most exciting young players, Liverpool's Raheem Sterling and Manchester United's Wilfried Zaha, are thinking about how their fortunes have changed over the last 12 months.
Last summer, then 20-year-old Zaha had just signed a 5 year deal with Premier League champions Manchester United worth a staggering £15m. While some miles down the East Lancs Road, teenage prodigy Raheem Sterling continued his recovery after fatigue curtailed his first league campaign with Liverpool.
The Manchester United winger already had two senior England caps under his belt by the time he travelled to Israel for the U-21 European Championships. Back at home, Sterling was experiencing some unwanted media attention after being arrested for an alleged assault on his girlfriend. With the spotlight on both wingers for two very different reasons, neither could have foreseen the drastic change in their fortunes one year on.
This season has seen Sterling emerge at Liverpool as one of the most potent attacking threats in English football. A combination of new-found guile and work rate, along with his already frightening pace, has helped Liverpool storm to the summit of the Premier League. Weighing in with 10 goals and four assists, Sterling’s marvellous campaign was capped off with an outstanding display for the senior national side in England’s friendly victory over Denmark.
Zaha, on the other hand, has endured a miserable time at Manchester United. Having not started a league match under David Moyes, the Scotsman loaned Zaha out to relegation-threatened Cardiff City in January. Limited game time has been afforded to the former Crystal Palace man since, and recent reports have hinted at a quick exit from Old Trafford.
Liverpool's Sterling now looks like a certainty to be included in Roy Hodgson's England World Cup squad, with many claiming he deserves a place in the starting XI itself. Zaha could not be further from Hodgson's thoughts, however - and worse still, he could soon be dispensed with by Manchester United.