England’s Under 21 side kick off their European Championship finals campaign tonight against the highly rated Portugal.
The consistency of Premier League stars within Gareth Southgate’s squad means the youngsters enter the tournament with high expectations on their shoulders.
With attacking stars such as Harry Kane and Danny Ings at their disposal, England’s young guns have a great chance of challenging the top National sides and actually winning the competition.
Harry Kane will be pivotal to his side’s chances, posing as the main man for Gareth Southgate. If the Spurs striker can continue the impressive form he demonstrated in the Premier League, then opposition defences are in trouble. His technical ability makes him key to England’s chances while his work rate and position as a top Premier League striker will inspire those around him. Despite his age, he will be a massive role model for his team mates.
Danny Ings will also be looking forward to representing his country while he will also view it as an ideal opportunity to show Liverpool fans what he is capable of, ahead of his transfer to Anfield.
His presence is even more important now given the injury sustained by West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino that has ruled him out of the finals.
Ultimately, England are in possession of an extremely potent strike force with Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Benik Afobe offering additional pace and flair.
The high hopes for England come as a result of the balance throughout the side in terms of quality in every area of the pitch.
Though his misses out on the opening game as a result of concussion, John Stones, if able to recover, promises to add a maturity and composure in defence. He has put in very assuring displays in an Everton shirt which has made him a regular in Roberto Martinez’s side. His Premier League experience will make him a match for any striker he faces in the Czech Republic over the coming weeks.
Moreover, Carl Jenkinson and Calum Chambers will offer additional Premier League experience as well as defensive solidity if their performances at West Ham and Arsenal, respectively, are anything to go by.
Technically, this Under 21 squad are very capable. Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse will be an important player if utilised in a position where he can manoeuvre the ball quickly and keep the play ticking over. The combination of his positional intelligence and well practiced set pieces will be key.
The exciting Nathan Redmond and Jesse Lingard will also add to the dynamic of the team with their pace and trickery. Their ability to contribute goals means England have the attacking weapons at hand to cause the opposition problems from all areas of the pitch.
The range of talent will mean other countries will be unable to leave players unmarked in order to double up on Harry Kane, making him all the more dangerous.
Come on England.