England Under-21 Players Who Could Challenge for Euro 2020 Place



Callum Hudson-Odoi has already been capped by the senior side | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Just in case you missed it, folks, England’s Under-21’s overcame the mighty Andorra 3-1 on Friday night in their penultimate European Championships qualifier.

Their victory means Aidy Boothroyd’s Young Lions have won eight of their nine qualifiers thus far, with their place at next summer’s tournament in Hungary and Slovenia very much secure.

England U21 v Andorra U21 - UEFA Euro Under 21 QualifierThe Young Lions maintained their unbeaten record in qualifying with victory over Andorra on Friday night | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

England will be looking to improve on their 2019 performance, when they were knocked out in the group stages after failing to win a single game. However, as Boothroyd noted post-match, the aspirations of some of his stars regarding ‘next summer’ should undoubtedly be higher, i.e. Euro 2020 (1).

As Gareth Southgate’s proved with the recent selections of Phil Foden, Mason Greenwood and 17-year-old Jude Bellingham, he’s more than happy to grant talented youth a chance to shine on the senior international stage – with club level exposure seemingly irrelevant in the eyes of the Three Lions boss at times.

Thus, with a gifted pool of Under-21’s coming through, here are a few names who may look to sneak into Southgate’s plans ahead of next summer’s Euros.

Tariq LampteyTariq Lamptey has emerged as a star following his January switch to Brighton | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

One of the Premier League’s pure entertainers, Lamptey is nothing short of a joy to watch.

A live wire down the Brighton right ever since his £3m move from Chelsea in the winter, the 20-year-old has earned two caps for Boothroyd’s side.

Despite boasting such a unique profile, the sheer depth Southgate currently possesses at right-back means Lamptey is very much an outside shot to make next summer’s squad. He’ll be a treat to watch in central Europe for the ’21s’, mind.

Hudson-Odoi put it on a plate!

Curtis Jones steered it home for his first #YoungLions goal ? pic.twitter.com/tS21EyqExZ

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 13, 2020

The Chelsea starlet was a full-blown international before he made his bow for the Under-21’s in October 2019 and is the most likely on this list to push for a senior spot next summer despite England’s wealth of attacking options.

Hudson-Odoi’s untimely Achilles injury has undoubtedly proven detrimental in his development but he’s nonetheless shown signs of returning to the sort of form which he displayed under Maurizio Sarri, and which persuaded Southgate to reward him with his senior debut last March.

Boasting sophisticated passing and dribbling abilities and an exciting unpredictability in one-v-one situations, Hudson-Odoi certainly has the capacity to reach superstardom.

He must work his way into Frank Lampard’s plans at Chelsea before a return to the Three Lions is considered, though.

Dwight McNeilDwight McNeil is blessed with a wicked delivery and an impressive gallop | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

McNeil’s showing against Andorra garnered plenty of attention, with the Burnley midfielder notching an assist in the victory.

While he’s endured a quiet start to 2020/21 in the Premier League, the 20-year-old’s registered eight goal contributions in each of the past two seasons which, from a wide midfield role in Burnley’s 4-4-2, is pretty good going.

What stands McNeil in good stead, as well, is the fact that he’ll be playing week-in, week-out for Sean Dyche’s Clarets – thus treating Southgate to a sequence of tantalising left-footed deliveries bound for Chris Wood’s noggin EVERY WEEK. A manager’s dream.

Sh**housers across the UK are on their knees for a McNeil x Dominic Calvert-Lewin route one combination to down the Scots at Wembley.

Ben GodfreyBen Godfrey made the summer switch from Norwich to Everton | Robin Jones/Getty Images

Godfrey earned his deserved ‘big’ break in the summer when Everton came calling late on in the transfer window and wrapped up a £25m deal with Norwich for the 22-year-old.

The Toffees centre-half enjoyed a fine individual campaign with the Canaries last time out in which his impressive ball-playing capacity and almost throwback defensive nous were on full display.

Much of his work this season has come at right-back, however, with Carlo Ancelotti favouring Michael Keane and Yerry Mina at the heart of Everton’s defence.

Nevertheless, with centre-back certainly a topic of discussion for Southgate, Godfrey is best placed among the Under-21 options to make the leap next summer.

England U21 v Andorra U21 - UEFA Euro Under 21 QualifierEberechi Eze has been capped six times by England’s Under-21’s | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

After a slow start, Eze has started to show signs of life at Crystal Palace, starring in their recent 4-1 victory over Leeds with a goal and an assist.

The 22-year-old’s a versatile creator capable of operating infield in the half-spaces and isolating his marker in the wide channel. He perhaps most resembles Jack Grealish from a stylistic perspective in the England set-up.

Nevertheless, Eze’s poised for a fine debut season in the Premier League and could perhaps float around in the back of Southgate’s mind over a surprise call-up next summer. Regular minutes will be the key.

England U21 v Andorra U21 - UEFA Euro Under 21 QualifierConor Gallagher’s combative, all-action nature has been on display for West Brom this season | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

And we’re back to the Cobham graduates.

After starring in the Championship for both Charlton and Swansea last season, at which his attacking exploits – 17 goal contributions in 45 games – were celebrated, the combative Gallagher has impressed at the start of 2020/21 in the top flight with West Brom.

While his profile differs from that of, say, Mason Mount, they’re similar in that they can provide a creative spark from a number eight role without compromising the balance of the side. Gallagher’s excelled as part of the same system at West Brom that Southgate is currently favouring for England: the 3-4-3.

Another wildcard option.

Curtis JonesCurtis Jones opened the scoring for the Young Lions on Friday night | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

When Jurgen Klopp frequently rolled out second-string XI’s for cup competitions last term, Curtis Jones often stuck out like a sore thumb.

Thus, the 19-year-old has been thrust into Klopp’s first-team plans to start 2020/21 amid Liverpool’s injury crisis.

He’s been entrusted to fulfil such a demanding and disciplined role in the German’s midfield in both the Premier League and Champions League this term, showing distinct signs of improvement – from a tactical perspective – with every passing game.

Jones is certainly a longshot but it’d be hard for Southgate to completely overlook the teenager should Klopp continue to utilise him.

England U21 v Andorra U21 - UEFA Euro Under 21 QualifierRhys Williams could enjoy plenty of first-team action at Liverpool before next summer’s Euros | Sam Bagnall – AMA/Getty Images

Imagine even considering a certain Rhys Williams as a potential Euro 2020 outsider as recently as a month ago.

However, in the midst of Liverpool’s centre-back crisis, Williams has stepped in ably – making three Champions League appearances – which saw him earn his maiden Under-21 call-up last month.

Now, following news of Joe Gomez’s long-term knee injury, the 19-year-old is just an inevitable Joel Matip knock away from emerging as Klopp’s first-choice centre-back option.

Williams may well get plenty of exposure ahead of next summer’s tournament which means he’s certainly one to keep an eye out for.





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