Aidy Boothroyd’s England Under-21s get their European Championship campaign underway in a mouthwatering clash against France.
Manager Boothroyd believes this is his best squad yet but has warned his players that the tournament is “knock-out football from day one.”
England were semi-finalists two years ago in Poland, getting eliminated on penalties by Germany, and if they want to reach the final four this year then they must win their group which also includes Romania and Croatia.
“This is going to be one of the best U21 tournaments there’s ever been because of the quality of the teams in the tournament,” Boothroyd said. “As coaches and players we want to perform and be up against the best to push ourselves.”
Chelsea youngster Jake Clarke-Salter was named as England’s captain and the centre-back, who has had loan spells with Vitesse Arnhem, Sunderland and Bristol Rovers, is aiming to emulate Blues hero John Terry.
“I am a Chelsea player and John Terry is my idol and I look up to him a lot,” Clarke-Salter said. “I came through the academy and he gave me a lot of advice, that is the main factor for me personally.”
Manchester City starlet Phil Foden is in the starting line up alongside Leicester City’s James Maddison. Manchester United target Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also set to start the game.
France will likely call upon the services of former Fulham and Celtic hitman Moussa Dembele to spearhead their attack, while current Arsenal star Matteo Guendouzi and former Gunner Jeff Reine-Adelaide are expected to line up in midfield.