Southgate set to hand England U21s call to Flanagan

Wednesday 16 Apr 2014
Flanagan in action against Iraq at last summer's U20 World Cup

Gareth Southgate has been keeping a close eye on Merseyside this season, with players catching his eye from both Liverpool and Everton.

The England Under-21 boss has had starlets from both clubs in his squad this season and looks set to pick another for the trip to Wales next month in the shape of Reds defender Jon Flanagan.

Flanagan has been in good form for Brendan Rodgers’ in recent months, helping the Anfield club to the summit of the Premier League table with his performances at left-back.

England U20s defender Jon Flanagan.

Flanagan featured in the U20 World Cup with England this summer


And Southgate admits the 21-year-old is likely to be included in his squad for the game with Wales at Swansea City’s Liberty Stadium on Monday 19 May.

That would be Flanagan's first England call-up since he was named in the squad for last summer’s U20 World Cup, where he played in the opening game with Iraq before injury ruled him out of the remaining matches.

"I went to see Jon and Brendan at Liverpool about a month ago, because I feel he does deserve to be in our squad," revealed Southgate.

"He’s one we’ll be looking to involve in the summer, if of course he doesn’t force his way into the seniors."

Southgate has been left impressed by the approach of Liverpool and Rodgers to his young players this season.

With the likes of Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson also proving regulars in the Liverpool team, the former England defender is in full support of how Rodgers has approached the season.

"Brendan has talked many times about his belief that young British players can play and I totally agree with him," added Southgate.

"I know within our Under-21s there are lads that can use the ball, there’s no question about that.

"So for many, it’s just a case of being given the opportunity and having a manager and a coach that has belief in them.

Watch our Twitter chat with Jon Flanagan


"They won’t get it right immediately – but there are lads there that are playing at the top of their game, that are being encouraged to express themselves."

That is also proving the case across Stanley Park, where Under-21s regular John Stones has been picking up plaudits for his performances with Everton.

Stones, 19, has been a virtual ever-present for the Three Lions this season as they’ve climbeed to the top of their Euro qualifying group.

And his recent form at Goodison Park hasn’t surprised Southgate, who had followed his progress from the England U19s side last season through to the U20 World Cup in the summer.

"He’s been under the radar for a while – he started the season at right-back with us," explained Southgate.

"Roberto [Martinez] had played him in a back-three in a pre-season game against Juventus and he was excellent.

"I’d spoken to Roberto about that – we then moved him into centre-half for a game and he was outstanding, and subsequently he’s had this run at Everton where he’s done very well.

"He’s composed on the ball – reads the game really well and has a great attitude to learning the game and learning – and that’s crucial."

By Nicholas Veevers