Gareth Southgate’s England Under 21 squad: Who’s missing?

No sooner was the ink dry on Gareth Southgate’s England Under 21 squad than the debate started raging about who else would pull out.

Pressure from clubs or fitness concerns have already led to Ross Barkley, Jack Wilshere, Raheem Stirling and Luke Shaw’s omission from the initial 27-man party for the European Championships, which kicks off in the Czech Republic on June 17.

Southgate still has the likes of Harry Kane to rely on – but even Tottenham’s 20-goal hitman has been warned by boss Mauricio Pochettino that participation could jeopardise his chances of playing for Spurs early next season.

Highly-rated defenders Calum Chambers, John Stones and Eric Dier also make the cut, as does Chelsea prodigy Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has earned plaudits for his displays in the Blues’ midfield in recent weeks.

Few countries in Europe can boast talent to match the likes of Shaw, Barkley, Sterling, Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. All things being equal, former Middlesbrough boss Southgate would have some of the brightest young stars in Europe to choose from.

But it’s rarely that simple – as his predecessor Stuart Pearce will testify.

It’s now or never for Southgate’s England Under 21 squad

If ever an Under 21 England team was required to perform it is now.

Decades ago it would have been deemed such an honour to pull on an England shirt at any level that players would have walked through broken glass to participate.

Nowadays, spiralling wages and the billion-pound revenues of the Premier League have seen the priorities of both players and clubs shift dramatically.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Germany and Spain in particular have benefited hugely from putting out strong Under 21 teams.

Many of their youngsters have gone on to fulfill their potential at senior World Cups and European Championships.

They benefit from playing together and get to experience both the rewards and the pain of winning and losing as a tournament team.

And – whisper it softly in the corridors of power – but even the clubs have been known to benefit when their assets have increased in value after performing on the world stage.

Southgate's England Under 21 squad can learn from Spain

Too often players are thrown into England senior squads after just brief spells of success, albeit top performances in the Premier League and Champions League.

There will always be a difference between club and international football – and international tournaments bring their own unique demands, regardless of the age level.

Players, management, coaching and support staff need to bond as a group, with fitness and stamina tested over intense periods after a long season.

The players with experience of the senior England squad should not feel detached from the 21s. They should embrace the opportunity of not only playing but encouraging and enhancing the development of the youngsters coming through.

This creates a structure that allows the players to improve their game and carry forward new knowledge and skills to the senior environment.

Berahino: Onwards and upwards after years of loyal service

One player who seems to have benefited both club and country through his involvement over the entire qualifying period is Saido Berahino – another inclusion in Southgate’s squad.

The West Brom striker has scored ten goals in 13 Under 21 appearances and has looked a real threat in the Premier League, enhancing his reputation still further with a great long-range strike against Chelsea this week.

Called up to Roy Hodgson’s senior squad last November, Berahino has a bright international future to look forward to.

He started cutting his teeth in the junior squads in 2009 before joining Southgate’s England Under 21 squad two years ago and he’s now reaping the rewards.

Let’s hope others follow in his footsteps and he’s not a dying breed. And here’s hoping the Euros will be one of the highlights of the football calendar – an event that England fans will remember for years to come.

Squad list in full:-


Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham), Jonathan Bond (Watford), Jack Butland (Stoke City)


Calum Chambers (Arsenal), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Garbutt (Everton), Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough), Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal), Michael Keane (Burnley), Liam Moore (Leicester City), John Stones (Everton), Matt Targett (Southampton)


Tom Carroll (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea), Will Hughes (Derby County), Jake Forster-Caskey (Brighton & Hove Albion), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), Alex Pritchard (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathan Redmond (Norwich City), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)


Benik Afobe (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Patrick Bamford (Chelsea), Saido Berahino (West Bromwich Albion), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Ings (Burnley), Cauley Woodrow (Fulham)

England’s group fixtures:-

June 18 (7.45pm) Portugal

June 21 (5pm) Sweden

June 24 (7.45pm) Italy

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