Aidy Boothroyd has named his England Under-21 squad for the upcoming European Championships, with star names Curtis Jones, Mason Greenwood and Callum Hudson-Odoi all earning a spot in a strong squad.
Co-hosted by Slovenia and Hungary, the tournament was initially scheduled for this summer but was rescheduled after Euro 2020 was pushed back a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group stage will be played between March 24-31, before the knockout stages are held between May 31-June 6.
There are three new faces in the squad: Arsenal forward Emile Smith Rowe, PSV Eindhoven winger Noni Madueke and West Brom goalkeeper Josh Griffiths, who has impressed on loan with Cheltenham Town this season.
Further forward is where England will hope to have the edge over their rivals. In midfield, Liverpool starlet Jones will be leading the charge, joined by Everton’s Tom Davies, Crystal Palace’s Ebere Eze and Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher.
In attack, new-boy Madueke has been making waves with PSV this season. He has seven goals and six assists in 18 Eredivisie games this year and will hope to make a real splash alongside Hudson-Odoi, Greenwood, Eddie Nketiah, Rhian Brewster and Smith Rowe.
There are a few notable absentees from this squad. In midfield, there is no spot for Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, who has enjoyed an outstanding debut season in Germany and is widely expected to feature in Gareth Southgate’s senior squad in the near future.
Chelsea right-back Reece James also misses out, suggesting there could be more senior involvement for him too, while the absence of Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka seems to confirm that he will remain a first-team regular for the foreseeable future.
“I’m excited by this group – not just in their ability but also their togetherness and team spirit – and know they will do everything they can to make the country proud,” said Boothroyd (via the FA website following the squad announcement.
“I’m grateful to Gareth for his support with what we are trying to achieve, and also to the clubs for recognising the importance of these finals.
“We want to win every time we play and will do all we can to reach the knockout stage – but this is also a crucial opportunity for providing valuable experience on and off the pitch that will help the players, their clubs and England in future.”