Southgate pleased with player pathway from Under-21s

Thursday 19 Mar 2015
Gareth Southgate has been pleased with his squad's consistency this campaign
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Gareth Southgate has praised the player pathway between his England Under-21 squad and Roy Hodgson’s senior set-up.

The U21s head coach named his squad for this month’s games with Czech Republic and Germany on Thursday, with striker Harry Kane being the latest Young Lion to be picked by Hodgson.

Czech Republic v England

U21s International Match
7.30pm, Friday 27 March 2015
Lettna Stadium, Prague

In-form Spurs striker Kane follows in the footsteps of Raheem Sterling, Luke Shaw, John Stones and Saido Berahino who have all caught Hodgson’s eye during their U21 appearances.

And Southgate believes it sets a great example to the rest of his squad to know that there is the potential for them to progress.

"We've been pretty consistent in our selection for the last 12 months or so really," explained Southgate.

"Obviously Harry is with Roy this time which is fantastic for him, but also fantastic for us as a group, to see somebody go up.

"It's a great message for those in the squad that the pathway is quite clear for them.

"One or two boys have been up to the senior team, but haven't yet established themselves as regulars and that's going to be the case at their age, so it's nice to have a couple of those back in the fold with us."

England Under-21s

Harry Kane has been called into Roy Hodgson's senior squad this month

Southgate is referring to Berahino, Stones and Calum Chambers, who will all be among the group who travel to England’s Euro base in Olomouc on Monday, having previously been involved with the senior squad.

And with the Euro Finals in June drawing ever closer, Southgate has re-iterated his and Hodgson’s desire to take a strong squad to the competition.

"We're constantly talking about it and he's made it clear that we're able to pick any of the players that are eligible," he revealed. 

"I've said all along that there's a core group who have been involved in this campaign and the dynamic of it is really important.

"They're a group who look forward to each other's company so it's been great to be around them and see how they've bonded as a group of men."

The Three Lions will certainly face two real tests of their Euro credentials too, with host nation Czech Republic awaiting them in Prague next Friday and then a clash with perennial challengers Germany at the Riverside Stadium on Monday 30 March.

England v Germany

U21s International Match
7.45pm, Monday 30 March 2015
The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Live on BT Sport
Call 0844 499 1234 for tickets

After November’s games with Portugal and France, Southgate is happy that his side will again be testing themselves against some of the best teams around.

"After these games, we will have played three of the seven finalists and France, who should have qualified and are probably the best team in Europe at this age group," said the former Middlesbrough manager.

"That's the sort of test that we want and it's the opportunity to work together again because we haven't had a meet-up since November.

"They'll look forward to it, as it's a nice switch-off for them when all of them are involved in intense periods with their clubs. 

"We're conscious of that so I'll be looking at the outfield players in particular because I've got to be mindful of the long game for the summer. They've all got key games for their clubs and I've got to respect that.

"But we've also got some work to do in terms of the way we want to play and re-establishing that and we have two good tests before we get together again in six weeks."

Tickets for the game with Germany at the Riverside Stadium are on sale now by calling 0844 499 1234. Tickets are also available online.

By Nicholas Veevers