John Stones: England Under-21s can win Euros

Tuesday 09 Jun 2015
Stones (r) with Danny Ings, Liam Moore and Tom Carroll in training
John Stones believes the character and spirit within the England Under-21s squad can take them far this summer.

The full squad trained together for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, following the late addition of Harry Kane, Calum Chambers and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

England v Belarus

A Vauxhall International
7.45pm, Thursday 11 June 2015
Oakwell, Barnsley FC
Live on BT Sport
Call 0871 2266777 for tickets

And the Everton man revealed the mood in the group is good ahead of their trip to Czech Republic for the Finals this weekend.

"There’s a great buzz, it’s been so positive in training and there’s a great confidence about the group," said Stones.

"We’ve been sharp and we’re not trying to peak too early in training, but going back to when we’ve met up before, it’s always been the same and everyone is so close together.

"Hopefully we can take that into the tournament."

Stones has already had a taste of life in an international tournament, after he was part of the England squad who travelled to the 2013 U20 World Cup in Turkey.

And his memories of that trip mean he knows what Gareth Southgate’s men are going to face when they start their campaign against Portugal on Thursday 18 June.

"It’s intense, games are so short and close together," he added. 

"But the importance of the matches and things that you might get away with in normal games, just doesn’t happen in tournament football.

"There are big surprises, as we found out in the U20 World Cup, where there were big upsets with the teams we played [a draw with Iraq and defeat to Egypt].

"On paper, we should have beaten them quite easily but we didn’t and that says a lot about tournament football.

"With the expectation that gets put on us, we have to live up to that and embrace it. With the squad that we’ve got, I’m sure that we can do that.

"We can definitely win this tournament and any team that goes into it thinking they’re not going to win it, is not going to win it.

"So with the squad that we’ve got and the games that we’ve won in the past against top teams, with the character we’ve got in this squad.

"If we go in confident and positive, take each game as it comes, we can do well."

Danny Ings and John Stones warm-up for training together.

New Mersey rivals Danny Ings and Stones warm-up for training

Before the squad head out to the Finals, there’s a last warm-up on Thursday when England face Belarus.

And that’s going to be a special night for the 21-year-old, with the game being staged in his home town of Barnsley and at the club where he started his career.

"It’ll be a good day and nice to see everyone again and for my family to come along. It’s been a long time," he admitted. 

"I still try and get along to watch Barnsley play when I can and I was there for the last game of the season, but to actually play for England will be a special moment for me.

"I have a lot of great memories there and it seems a long time ago, but it should be a great day."

Tickets for the game at Oakwell are on sale now, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for concessions. 

You can also purchase them online by clicking here.

By Nicholas Veevers at St. George's Park