Gareth Southgate whets the appetite for U21 Euro Finals

Tuesday 14 Apr 2015
Gareth Southgate has praised the desire of his players to represent the Three Lions

England’s Under-21 squad were given a taste of what to expect at the Euro Finals this summer during their recent trip to Czech Republic.

The Three Lions spent four days in Olomouc at their Euro base for June’s competition in the build-up to their victories over Czech Republic and Germany last month.

And head coach Gareth Southgate took the chance to show his players footage of some of the top stars who have featured in the U21 Euros over the years, further whetting the appetite for what lies ahead.

Gareth Southgate instructs his side during their game with Czech Republic.

Southgate took his squad for a training trip to Czech Republic in March

"We put a montage on for the players from the last tournament for the players," explained Southgate.

"You’ve got people like Veratti and Isco, who really came to prominence in Israel even though they were already well known before the tournament.

"So that’s the level we’re playing at and I don’t think any of our guys are bigger than those two in terms of where they are at this moment in time."

With just a few weeks of the domestic season remaining, Southgate admits he knows the majority of the squad he wants to take back to Czech Republic for the finals.

But he believes that any player who experiences the trip will return to their clubs for next season as a better player and better equipped to become senior internationals.

"None of these guys are finished [article] yet, but a lot of them are at a good level," he added. 

The U21s won 1-0 in Prague courtesy of a Tom Carroll goal

"There’s still game understanding and individual improvement to take place and it’s sometimes nice to do that slightly under the radar of the seniors, where any mistake is really crucial.

"It’s a another stage for them to test themselves against the best but also to establish individual reputations as well.

"If you speak to the players, they know they’re coming into a group where the training level is high and the matches now against top U21 teams are very high."

One area in which Southgate does not have to convince his players over is their commitment towards representing the Three Lions.

The U21s squad has been largely stable since the qualifying campaign began back in September 2013 and the former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough boss is happy with the attitude shown throughout the development teams.

"We don’t have to talk to them about the desire of playing for England – it’s in there," he revealed.

The U21s' last match ended in an impressive win over Germany in Middlesbrough

"There’s not any sort of convincing to do, and frankly, I wouldn’t do that. If you need convincing, you’re probably not part of it.

"They’re all desperate to be part of it, our U17s, U18s and U20s are all the same.

"That inherent pride in playing for England is evident in all of our age groups now."

Southgate’s squad will re-convene to continue their preparation for the Euros in early June before flying out to Czech Republic ahead of their first group game against Portugal on 18 June.

By Nicholas Veevers