'England U21s want to achieve something special'

Tuesday 28 Apr 2015
Gareth Southgate says his Euro squad will be a 'tight-knit' group
Gareth Southgate admits he cannot wait to get his England Under-21s squad together again for this summer’s Euro Finals.

The Three Lions head coach takes his side to Czech Republic for the competition after an impressive qualifying campaign and subsequent victories over the likes of Portugal and Germany.

UEFA European U21 Championship

The Finals 2015
17-30 June
Czech Republic

And during that time, Southgate believes the spirit which has formed within his squad can make June’s Finals an unforgettable experience.

"We’ve got a group of players that know they’re capable of achieving something special," said Southgate, who played in three major tournaments with England himself.

"They all enjoy each other’s company and being part of the England set-up. 

"They’re a very focused and tight-knit group and it’s not so often in your career that you get the chance to win something.

"So I think there’s a big team focus there."

Gareth Southgate celebrates with goalkeeping coach Martin Thomas

Southgate and his staff have been looking forward to the Euros since qualification last October

Southgate’s full squad will meet up to begin their preparations for the tournament in early June, before travelling to their base in Olomouc ahead of their first group game with Portugal on 18 June.

But with a number of players in the Championship, which finishes this weekend, some involved in the play-offs, and the rest in the Premier League which finishes on 24 May, Southgate and his staff are already in touch with the various clubs about the summer.

It means there could be a training camp in May for those players from the Championship, whose season ends over eight week before the Euros.

"Because we have to plan what the programme looks like for individual players, there needs to be an element of rest for them after their seasons," said Southgate."

"But we have to be mindful of the fitness levels of those players who have finished a number of weeks before the others.

Watch highlights of the Under-21s game with Germany in March

"Relationships with clubs have been excellent throughout the last two years and the players are all aware of what lies ahead in the summer.

"But it’s more a choice of getting clear in my mind who my first-choice 23 will be and also who will be the next guys in because unfortunately we’ll probably lose a couple between now and the end of the season through injury. 

"So you have to have all those plans in your mind as the head coach, but it’s not that complicated for us. 

"We’ve had a pretty settled squad for about a year now and I don’t see too many other people coming in from outside that group."

By Nicholas Veevers