Aidy Boothroyd has conceded that England cannot afford to slip up against Slovakia on Monday as they attempt to keep alive their prospects of reaching the European Under-21 Championship semi-finals.
Despite Jordan Pickford’s late penalty save which earned the Young Lions a 0-0 draw with Sweden on Friday, Alex Killorn Youth Jersey
Slovakia’s surprise win against Poland in the group’s other match means anything other than a win would leave Boothroyd’s side with a mountain to climb as they bid to end their poor recent record in this competition.
Gareth Southgate and his assistant, Steve Holland, were both present at England’s training session here on Sunday, with the senior team manager keen to have an input into a squad that he guided to victory in last year’s Toulon tournament having spent three years in charge of the under-21s. Boothroyd insisted that the presence of Southgate and technical director Dan Ashworth has been a boost for the players as they prepare to face a side that has qualified for this competition for the first time, having finished fourth when they hosted it back in 2000.
“It’s really helpful having them here,” Boothroyd said. “It’s great that Gareth, Steve and Dan are here because it shows players there is a pathway for them. http://www.officialtampabaylightning.com/Adidas-Andrei-Vasilevskiy-Jersey
And if the senior manager can take time out of his busy schedule to come to watch us then it gives the players a boost. Gareth’s been very positive. We are very close anyway. It’s great if I have any questions about players Gareth can be my sounding board because he knows them all so well and was with them in Toulon.”
“It’s knockout football now without a doubt,” he said. “We’ve got to win and win the next one after that. But we have to beat the Slovakians first. They have had a brilliant start. They’re a very good team and I’ve been really impressed with them.”
Victories for Spain – who thrashed Macedonia 5-0 in Gdynia thanks to a hat‑trick from Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio – and Portugal in their opening games on Saturday mean that they already hold a significant advantage in the race for the best runners-up spot, meaning England’s progress to the last four is likely to depend on them winning the group.
“That group is shaping up with Spain as the winners and maybe the runners-up getting six points,” said Boothroyd. “So that makes it even more important we do what we have to do. This is a tournament where there is no grace. You have to hit the ground running if you want to qualify by topping the group. So it puts a bit more pressure on you from the start.”
James Ward-Prowse was part of Southgate’s squad for the last edition in the Czech Republic two years ago but was dropped after the defeat to Portugal in their first match and did not play again as they exited at the group stages for the third tournament in succession. Now installed as under-21 captain following a productive season for Southampton that saw him make 30 Premier League appearances and reach the EFL Aaron Lynch Youth Jersey
Cup final, the 22-year-old is keen to make up for those bad memories.
“It was a massive disappointment for me but we’re lucky enough that we get another chance to put things right,” Ward-Prowse said. “I know by my own standards when I’ve had a good game or not and having spoken to Gareth at the time about the reasons why he took me off, it made me realise I had some things to work on and change. I went away and in the long run it was a very good thing to happen to me. http://www.sanfrancisco49ersauthorizedstore.com/aaron-burbridge-jersey-elite
It was a wake-up call and I dealt with some bigger game scenarios at the Toulon tournament and the cup final. To get that big game experience under my belt has definitely helped me.
“There’s six or seven of us from the last time so we’ve all got those feelings and that hunger to get things right. We want to make sure that we’re not having those same feelings again.”