Captain Jack wants tough Euro tests for England U21s

Thursday 16 Oct 2014
Butland has captained the Under-21s to the Euro Finals next summer
Jack Butland believes England Under-21s have the ability to build on their qualification for the Euro Finals next summer.

The Stoke City goalkeeper captained the Three Lions to a convincing play-off win against Croatia this week to seal a place in the last eight in Czech Republic.

And after a qualification process which has seen Gareth Southgate’s side win 11 out of their 12 games, Butland says the focus on facing some of Europe’s top nations starts now.

England line-up ahead of Croatia match

The Under-21s beat Croatia by 2-1 in Vinkovci to secure their Euro spot

"Everyone is really pleased with qualification," he said.

"So we’ve now got to focus on playing some really tough friendlies and against teams that are really going to push us to the limit.

"Some of the teams we might come up against, we might lose but we’ve got to learn to play against the top teams.

"That’s the only way to prepare for the Finals next summer and then we can assess where we’re at."

Southgate’s squad will be back in action next month, with two games in the process of being scheduled for the November international week.

And Butland knows it will be another opportunity for the squad to work together in training and try to build on their success in the play-offs.

He added: "You don’t go into any tournament or game thinking that you want to draw, or ‘let’s come second.’

"Whatever [tournament] we’re in, we want to win and we believe we’ve got the ability to do that and it’s going to be the target for every one of our group games next summer to put in a good account of ourselves.

"It’s massively important when you’ve got the ability that we have in terms of players on the ball that everyone’s on the same song sheet and understands what you’re doing.

Butland spoke about the squad's quality before the second leg in Croatia


"When you’re under pressure against top teams, the only way to beat them and kill them off is to pass the ball and we have the ability to do that."

Butland has previous experience of winning with England, as he was part of the U17s team which lifted the Euro title in 2010.

A number of players from that squad have gone on to feature for the Three Lions at Under-21 and senior level and last season’s U17 side followed in their footsteps by landing the 2014 title.

So Butland is encouraged by that and with the way in which the various national development teams have adopted a similar approach to the Under-21s.

"We’ve got to have a mentality as a country about what is going to make it work," he added. 

"We had Lewis Baker who came up from the U20s and we’ve had players from the Seniors like Luke Shaw and it was like he’d never been away. 

"It’s important that everyone understands the situation and how we play.

"That way, you can be successful. Other countries do it and if we can be successful with that mentality from U15s to seniors and get everyone playing the same way with that same understanding then it can only be a good thing."

By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels