Aidy Boothroyd has announced his squad for the under 21 European Championships this summer and it is packed full of young Premier League stars who are looking to gain tournament experience. Several of the players in this squad would have been called up for Gareth Southgate’s senior side had this tournament not been taking place but the valuable experience of going away with an England team could prove pivotal at Euro 2020 next year.
Four years ago, England finished bottom of their group and were eliminated early from the tournament after another disappointing summer tournament. This result came 12 months after an absolutely shocking display at the World Cup for the senior team and things had to change at a national level.
Gareth Southgate was the under 21 manager at this point but he did not have too much talent at his disposal in his squad. Harry Kane was the shining light after his breakthrough season but other than that, only Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and John Stones featured in the 2018 World Cup. It certainly wasn’t the brightest crop of young players, although having said that, several of them made many appearances in the 2014/15 Premier League.
The three strikers included in the squad looked incredible on paper, but did not produce. Saido Berahino had made 38 Premier League appearances for West Brom that season, scoring 14 goals. Harry Kane had hit 21 goals for Spurs whilst Danny Ings was performing well for Burnley.
Nathan Redmond and Jesse Lingard were the only Young Lions to get onto the scoresheet during the tournament. The other midfielders in the squad in 2015 were James Ward-Prowse, who has performed well this season, Tom Carroll, Nathaniel Chalobah, Will Hughes, Jake Forster-Caskey and Alex Pritchard. Not the most inspiring bunch of young players we have ever seen.
In total, the 2015 squad had made a total of 269 Premier League appearances heading into the tournament but over 100 of them came from those aforementioned three strikers. The class of 2019 have registered 295 Premier League appearances this term and look to be in a much better position to make the step up to the first team.
James Maddison leads the way with 36 Premier League appearances this term but Ryan Sessegnon, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Aaron Wan-Bissaka all made 35. The potential of these players is clear to see, with players such as Phil Foden, Angus Gunn and Demarai Gray all talented enough to make a big impression in the Premier League over the next 12 months.
Another good season will put them in contention for Euro 2020 and manager Aidy Boothroyd is well aware of the talent he has at his disposal:
"This is a really strong squad," he told the BBC.
"I'm really pleased with the group of players who will be representing us at the Euros.
"We have a big pool of talent in the England set-up and I had some tough selection decisions to make as there's a lot of strength in depth."
Of course, some of the players in this squad will not make it to the very top, but the future's looking far more bright now than it did four years ago. It’s Coming Home.
England’s U21 squad from 2015 with Premier League appearances
Saido Berahino: 38
Danny Ings: 35
Harry Kane: 34
Carl Jenkinson: 32
Calum Chambers: 23
John Stones: 23
Michael Keane: 22
Tom Carroll: 13
Liam Moore: 11
Matt Targett: 6
Luke Garbutt: 4
Jack Butland: 3
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 3
Marcus Bettinelli: 0
Jonathan Bond: 0
Ben Gibson: 0
Nathaniel Chalobah: 0
Jake Forster-Caskey: 0
Will Hughes: 0
Jesse Lingard: 0
Alex Pritchard: 0
Nathan Redmond: 0
England’s U21 squad from 2019 with Premier League appearances
James Maddison: 36