England Under-21s have attacking strength in depth for friendlies
England Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate has decided on his 22-man squad to face Portugal and France in incoming international friendlies, ahead of the European Championship 2015 finals in the Czech Republic next summer.
The former Three Lions centre back has called up a strong attacking line-up, despite losing star striker Saido Berahino to the senior squad. Southgate has the likes of Harry Kane and Danny Ings up front, and can also turn to Bournemouth’s in-form Callum Wilson, who is yet to play for England at any level.
It really signals a dramatic rise for Wilson, 22, who, only last season, was plying his trade in League One with hometown club Coventry City, but his 21 goals earned him a summer move to the south coast.
While Wilson went five Championship games for Bournemouth this term without scoring, he has rediscovered his form by netting five times and setting up another four in his last six matches. That incredible run also led to his side winning all of those fixtures, to take them to the summit of the table. Wilson, one way or the other, looks likely to play in the Premier League next season.
Wilson may not get a starting place in Southgate’s side to face Portugal Under-21s up first on November 13th at Burnley’s Turf Moor ground, with Tottenham’s Kane the main man of this squad.
The 21-year-old Spurs striker was tipped for a senior call-up along with Berahino, but will instead get the chance to increase his tally of six goals in nine appearances for the Young Lions.
Kane has been prolific this term for Mauricio Pochettino, completely out-performing Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado, having netted eight times in seven Europa League and Capital One Cup games. However, his late winner against Aston Villa in the Premier League might force Pochettino to play him more and thus potentially earn himself a senior call-up.
Recalled Ings could be Kane’s partner up front, to replace Berahino, and the Burnley striker will be hoping to get in on the goals on his home ground. Tom Ince, on loan at Nottingham Forest from Hull City, could join the duo in attack.
Southgate’s defence does look dramatically weaker, though, with Manchester United left back Luke Shaw also being promoted back to the senior side, and Spurs’ Eric Dier left out. A back four could consist of Carl Jenkinson, Jamaal Lascelles, Liam Moore and former Liverpool player Jack Robinson out on the left.
Surprisingly, Swansea City’s Jonjo Shelvey has been left out of both Roy Hodgson and Southgate’s squads, but Tom Carroll, Nathaniel Chalobah and Will Hughes are available to pick from in the midfield. England cap Jack Butland, now on loan at Derby County, meanwhile, will be in net again.
The Young Lions have been drawn in Group B of the UEFA Under-21 European Championship alongside Italy, Portugal and Sweden. Hosts Czech Republic are in the other pool alongside Denmark, Germany and Serbia.
England Under-21s 22-man squad
Goalkeepers: Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham), Jonathan Bond (Watford), Jack Butland (Derby County, loan from Stoke City).
Defenders: Luke Garbutt (Everton), Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough), Carl Jenkinson (West Ham United, loan from Arsenal), Michael Keane (Burnley, loan from Manchester United), Jamaal Lascelles (Nottingham Forest, loan from Newcastle United), Liam Moore (Leicester City), Jack Robinson (Huddersfield Town, loan from QPR).
Midfielders: Tom Carroll (Swansea City, loan from Tottenham), Nathaniel Chalobah (Burnley, loan from Chelsea), Jake Forster-Caskey (Brighton & Hove Albion), Will Hughes (Derby), Thomas Ince (Nottingham Forest, loan from Hull City), Alex Pritchard (Brentford, loan from Tottenham), Nathan Redmond (Norwich City).
Strikers: Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough, loan from Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Danny Ings (Burnley), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth), Cauley Woodrow (Fulham).