With the scrutiny English football has come under in recent weeks—with less than a third of the Premier League's players being eligible for the England team according to research by BBC Sport—Chelsea fans will be encouraged one of their own young Englishmen is making headlines for all the right reasons.
Patrick Bamford is a striker currently on loan from the Blues at SkyBet League 1 side MK Dons, and with his impressive scoring record, many are asking if he has what it takes to go all the way and become a regular in Jose Mourinho's first team.
Well, does he? Bleacher Report digs a little deeper to find out.
Who Is He?
Chelsea signed Bamford from Nottingham Forest for £1.5 million in January 2012. He was aged 18 at the time and, coming through the ranks at the City Ground, there was plenty of buzz around what he could achieve in the game.
He had been with Forest since he was eight, rising through the club's academy system to earn him a place in the first team.
Bamford had made two appearances in the league before Chelsea came calling, making his debut against Cardiff City on New Year's Eve in 2011.
Before he departed the City Ground a few weeks later to join Chelsea, there was still time for Bamford to score five goals and set up three in Forest's 9-1 humiliation of Wigan Athletic in the FA Youth Cup.
By that time, Chelsea had seen enough and made their move before the transfer window closed.
When Bamford first arrived at Stamford Bridge, playing in Chelsea's Under-21 team, he took a while to adapt. Whereas Chelsea's academy has recently produced No. 9s that are somewhat more slight and diminutive, his 6'1" frame meant he stood out as being different.
He was played on the left of a front three, but as his confidence grew and he became settled, Chelsea started seeing the best of him and what he can offer.
Bamford is talented in the air, proving a real threat, but is equally talented with the ball at his feet. He enjoys dropping deep, running at players and shooting from range.
Preferring a position through the middle, the 20-year-old is known to score the odd tap-in, also, but he has the ability to score goals from all over the pitch.
In recent seasons, clubs in England and across the continent have looked to move away from the sense of what a traditional striker brings to a team. But in Bamford, Chelsea signed a player who typifies what we've known down the years as a typical No. 9 and offers something different to what the Blues have within their ranks right now.
MK Dons Loan
Chelsea first loaned Bamford to MK Dons in November last season, less than 12 months since his arrival from Nottingham Forest.
Playing regularly in League 1 has proved a good education for him, too, with his goal record proving particularly impressive.
This season Bamford already has 11 goals in 15 games in all competitions for The Dons. Last season wasn't as impressive—he scored four in 14—but his time at Stadium:mk was disrupted by a hamstring injury.
That meant he returned to Chelsea for treatment. But manager Karl Robinson was sufficiently impressed, wasting no time in getting him back to Milton Keynes for this season and renewing his loan this summer.
Bamford's current deal takes him through to January, but if the goals continue to flow, we can expect him to remain with the League 1 club until the end of 2013-14.
A Future Chelsea Star?
It remains to be seen if Bamford has the necessary quality to cut it in the Premier League, let alone at Chelsea.
His teammate Romelu Lukaku—who is the same age—is a player with vast international experience and also has a season of Premier League experience under his belt. To date, he hasn't come close to being given an extended run in the first team, so things are looking even tougher for Bamford right now.
Despite his goals this season, Bamford has also been overlooked by England Under-21s manager Gareth Southgate for the Three Lions' recent internationals, too. He has never featured above Under-20 for his country.
Ideally, the 20-year-old would be playing at least Championship level to prove his worth, and playing League 1 football suggests others higher up the scale may have judged him not quite good enough.
By all accounts he is a confident player, though, so he will be looking to continue firing MK Dons up the table to grab some attention and get his chance.
In a recent interview with Daily Star, he also demonstrated a mature player who is eager to improve.
"Heading is all I have been doing after training because the gaffer said it would add a few extra million to my price tag and will chip in an extra five goals a season," he said.
"If I can get that under my belt then it will help a lot. Obviously I need a bit more work on it though, as I missed quite a few [this season]."
Make your own mind up on Patrick Bamford from his highlights reel below.
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