England U21 EURO preview: Young Lions look to ride wave of success

Aidy Boothroyd took over from Gareth Southgate last year and is preparing for his first major tournament, hoping to continue success for England on the youth international stage after U20 World Cup and Toulon Tournament success.

England U21 EURO preview: Young Lions look to ride wave of success
Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

England look to continue their domination of international youth football tournaments over the next fortnight at the Under-21 European Championships.

Two separate under-20 sides lifted the Toulon Tournament and the U20 World Cup last weekend.

In May, the under-17s were cruelly beaten on penalties by Spain the U17 Euros final, having conceded a last minute equaliser.

The England DNA, the FA-launched nationwide philosophy launched in 2014, has seen its critics silenced as all four successful sides played with the now identifiable English style; organised, fast, technically excellent, patient.

A strong squad flew out to Poland on Monday night and manager Aidy Boothroyd, successor to current England manager Gareth Southgate, is looking forward to a “brilliant experience.”

“Every tournament brings its different challenges for all of the teams there, with players having injuries at the end of their seasons and coaches looking to energise the players to go one more time.”

We’ve got a couple of guys who already know what the Euros are going to be like and see themselves as having a little bit of unfinished business there,” said Boothroyd.

“I think that in itself is a really good motivation for them and that can spread through to the rest of the squad who are going for the first time.

“It’ll be a brilliant experience for them and a big part of their toolkit going forward as players, but just that integration in getting them ready is going to be a big thing for us."

Group A

England
Sweden
Poland
Slovakia

Fixtures

Sweden - Friday, June 16th - 18:00BST
Slovakia - Monday, June 19th - 18:00BST
Poland - Thursday, June 22nd - 20:45BST

Key players

In terms of experience, Boothroyd has plenty to use. While Marcus Rashford and Dele Alli could have been selected but instead were chosen for the senior squad for a World Cup qualifier against Scotland and a friendly against France, a number of other Premier League players are involved. Arsenal’s Calum Chambers is one to have been capped for England’s seniors, he’s joined in the squad by club teammate Rob Holding. Other Premier League starters include Jordan Pickford, Matt Targett, Demarai Gray, James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond.

Ward-Prowse captained England to the Toulon Tournament in 2016 and will prove vital in midfield.

Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham, now a well-known name after a stunning season with Bristol City on loan, will front up England’s side, looking to carry club form onto the international stage.

Jordan Pickford will be one of the tournament’s best goalkeepers.

Missing out with injury is Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

“Ruben’s been up with us and spent some time at St. George’s Park, he loves coming away with England and he’s devastated at missing out,” said manager Boothroyd.

“But he’s had an ongoing issue which has been managed and it was thought best that for his progress individually, it was important that he had a rest this time and didn’t come with us. We’re working hard with Chelsea and with him to get him back fit as soon as possible.

“We’re disappointed as well because he is a good player and a key player for us, but as he said to me, he’s looking forward to getting himself fit and coming back ready for our next campaign and that first qualifier against the Dutch in September.

“It’s unfortunate, but it means we can re-shuffle and we’ve got very able players in John Swift, Jack Grealish and Lewis Baker, who has had a phenomenal season, who can go into that number ten role and go and create and score goals for us.”

Also unavailable are exciting duo Izzy Brown (Chelsea) and Patrick Roberts (Man City) after busy seasons out on loan. Roberts had already turned down the chance to represent England at the U20 World Cup to remain at Celtic for a historic treble-winning season.

Squad

Goalkeepers

Jordan Pickford (Sunderland), Angus Gunn (Manchester City), Jonathan Mitchell (Derby)

Defenders

Mason Holgate (Everton), Ben Chilwell (Leicester), Calum Chambers (Arsenal), Jack Stephens (Southampton), Matt Targett (Southampton), Rob Holding (Arsenal), Kortney Hause (Wolves), Dominic Iorfa (Wolves), Alfie Mawson (Swansea)

Midfielders

Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea), Demarai Gray (Leicester), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Lewis Baker (Chelsea), Nathan Redmond (Southampton), Jacob Murphy (Norwich), John Swift (Reading), Will Hughes (Derby), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)

Forwards

Tammy Abraham (Chelsea), Cauley Woodrow (Fulham) 

Possible XI in the opening match, versus Sweden: Pickford; Holgate, Holding, Stephens, Targett; Chalobah, Ward-Prowse; Redmond, Hughes, Grealish; Abraham.

International Football