'Ruben Loftus-Cheek has earned call-up to U21s squad'

Saturday 23 May 2015
Ruben Loftus-Cheek in action for England U19s

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was named in the England Under-21s squad for the first time on Wednesday, as boss Gareth Southgate plans for the future.

The Chelsea midfielder has been a regular for the England U19s this season and recently made his Premier League debut for the Blues.

And the 19-year-old was included in Southgate’s provisional squad list for this summer’s Euro Finals in Czech Republic, with half an eye on the new Euro U21 campaign which starts in September.

England v Belarus

Under-21 International
Oakwell, Barnsley
7.45pm, Thursday 11 June 2015
Live on BT Sport
Call 0871 2266777 for tickets
E-mail: boxoffice@barnsleyfc.co.uk

Head coach Gareth Southgate said: “We hadn’t included him up until now because he was playing for the U19s and we didn’t want to move him up too early..

“Unfortunately, they [England U19s] didn’t qualify for the Euros but Ruben is a player who did really well with the U19s this year, as well as the progress we want him to make at club level.

“It also sends a good message out to our younger age groups that there’s a chance.”

Another youngster included in the 27-man list is Southampton defender Matt Targett.

After featuring for Aidy Boothroyd’s U20s this season, the left-back joined Southgate’s squad for their games with Czech Republic and Germany in March.

He made his debut in the 1-0 win over Czech Republic in Prague and with Luke Shaw unavailable for the Finals through injury, was named in the Euro squad and also with a view to the new campaign.

Chelsea debutant Ruben Loftus-Cheek challenges Liverpool

Ruben Loftus-Cheek made his Premier League debut against Liverpool

“Matt Targett is the same, after doing well with the U20s,” added Southgate.

“We feel we could have gone with an older full-back that’s maybe playing in the Championship, but who probably doesn’t have a longer-term future with us.

“We’d like Matt to have a bit more experience with us before we’d put him into a tournament but he’s the next one up.

“It can’t just be about picking a team to win now, there has to be a big nod to development as well.”

Southgate will have to reduce his long list down to 23 players ahead of the Finals, which England kick-off against Portugal in Uherske Hradiste on 18 June.

Matt Targett passes the ball on his England Under-21s debut in Prague.

Matt Targett made his England Under-21s debut in April

But with many of the players still having games remaining for their clubs, be that in the Premier League, FA Cup Final or Championship play-off final, he wanted to be prepared for any further injuries that may occur.

“We didn’t want to finalise the squad before the last games on Sunday, as players have got to get through those,” he explained.

“But it, selfishly, gives me a bit of thinking time in a couple of areas.

“Roy has been really has given this tournament priority over senior team qualification”

Gareth Southgate 

“Hopefully people have seen the way that we’ve played over the last 18 months and the quality of the group of young players that have come through and we’ve raised expectations.

“Roy [Hodgson] has been really collaborative for it and has given this tournament priority over the senior team qualification which I don’t remember happening ever before.

“I think that’s really powerful in terms of what we’re trying to do in youth development.

“And there’s a lot of good news stories in this group, there’s some exciting players coming through, players who have been a real pleasure to work with and who are focused on being as good as they can be.

“They’ve bought into the mentality that we’ve tried to create here, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.

“We want to give belief to people in England that we are producing good players and they can play, so can we go and now be successful and that could be really powerful.”

England take on Belarus in Barnsley on Thursday 11 June before they head out to Czech Republic for the Euros.

Tickets for the game at Oakwell are on sale now, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for concessions. Call 0871 2266777 or email boxoffice@barnsleyfc.co.uk for details.

By Nicholas Veevers