Three PL starters in England U-21s? Boss says more required

Date published: Wednesday 8th November 2017 3:17

Young English players need to be given more opportunities in the Premier League before youth success has a chance of translating to the senior side, according to England Under-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd.

English football has had an unprecedented summer at age group level, with the Under-17s and Under-20s winning their respective World Cups and the Under-19s becoming European champions.

The Under-21s put on a good show but were unable to match their younger compatriots, losing in the semi-finals of their European Championship to eventual champions Germany on penalties.

Boothroyd hopes England’s trophy haul can help convince clubs to give home-grown players a chance.

Of his squad, only three players – Jonjoe Kenny, Tom Davies and Demarai Gray – started for their clubs in the Premier League last weekend.

He told Press Association Sport: “I think it’s more important the effect it has on the rest of the game because it proves that our players are the best in the world at that age group.

“It proves that if they’re given that opportunity they might well surprise a few and they might do better than one or two players that are in their club teams already.

“I don’t see any reason why (the senior teams can’t win titles) but the players do have to get more opportunities, they have to play more and they have to prove themselves in the Premier League.”

The senior team’s injury problems ahead of their friendly clashes against Germany and Brazil have impacted on the Under-21s, with Tammy Abraham, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Joe Gomez all moving up.

“It was a real big positive to have three of the boys move up, because that’s what we’re here to do,” said Boothroyd.

“That’s something we’ve worked on because I think players, even at clubs, if they know they’ve got a pathway through to the first team then it makes them that little bit more encouraged that the opportunity is there, and it certainly is.

“We’ve got Joe Gomez and Tammy and Ruben wandering around with the first team, and it’s absolutely brilliant. We can take the team to watch the Brazil game and they can think ‘this could be me next time’.”

The Under-21s continue their European Championship qualifying campaign with a trip to face Ukraine on Friday.

Boothroyd’s side top their group after winning three of their first four matches and drawing against Holland.

Victory in Ukraine would put them in a very strong position, and Boothroyd said: “I think there’s a couple of teams that have played a couple less games than us but we’re at the top of the group at the minute and we want to make sure we stay there into the new year and beyond.

“We know Ukraine in November is going to be tough. They’ve had some indifferent results but they’re not far off us. We haven’t put them out of sight.”

Jake Clarke-Salter, Axel Tuanzebe and James Maddison all have the chance to win their first caps while Boothroyd is waiting on news of Tom Davies and Jack Harrison after they sat out training on Wednesday with knocks.

He said: “Both players are going to have a scan then we’ll make some decisions later on today on what we’re going to do. It was precautionary that they didn’t train, just to make sure we gave them the opportunity to rest and recover.”

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