Opportunity knocks for Lewis Baker after Dele Alli steps up

Thursday 01 Oct 2015
Lewis Baker in action for Vitesse Arnhem
As one of his England Under-21s charges moves into the senior set-up, boss Gareth Southgate is happy to see another player get his chance.

Southgate named his squad to face Kazakhstan in Coventry on Thursday morning, with one absentee from the group who featured in the two games last month in the shape of Dele Alli.

England v Kazakhstan

UEFA Euro U21 Championship
Group 9 Qualifier
5.45pm, Tuesday 13 October 2015
Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Live on BT Sport
Tickets: 024 7678 6411

The Spurs midfielder was picked by Roy Hodgson for their final two Euro Qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania, after an impressive start to the new season at White Hart Lane.

But that selection means Southgate has been able to recall Lewis Baker to his squad, a year on from his first experience with the U21s last October.

"It's a very similar squad to last month because that consistency is important," explained Southgate, after revealing his 23-man squad at the Ricoh Arena.

Gareth Southgate at Ricoh Arena

"But we've got Lewis Baker coming back, who has been with this group before and has now settled really well at Vitesse Arnhem, where he’s playing every week in the Dutch league so I'm looking forward to seeing his progression.

"He's a player that throughout U19s and U20s we've always liked and playing regular first-team football is good for him. 

"He's shown a maturity in adapting to a new league and country and he's not somebody that we've ever taken our eye off, but it was important to let him settle into that environment and it's a good moment for us to have another look at him."

England U20s midfielder Lewis Baker.

Lewis Baker was captain of England U20s last season and has been recalled to the U21s squad

Southgate also sees Alli’s elevation as something of a carrot for the rest of his players to keep progressing and performing with both club and country.

The 19-year-old made a good impression on his U21s debut against USA and then in the first Euro Qualifier in Norway, as well as catching Hodgson’s eye.

And the head coach believes the experience of being involved alongside the senior players 

"Dele was with us last month and it's the very early stages for him still," he added. 

"We enjoyed working with him last month and I'm sure he'll have a fantastic experience working with the seniors this month.

"With all young players, anything is possible, but there's no rush to put additional pressure on him.

England Under-21s midfielder Dele Allie skips past a USA challenge at Deepdale.

Dele Alli made his debut for the U21s in last month's victory against USA's U23 side in Preston

"There's a long way to go for all of the young players in this squad, but some of them are getting an opportunity at first-team level and thriving in that environment.

"He's adapting to life in the Premier League and he's only had a few starts, so we have to be cautious in terms of how much extra pressure we put on him.

"He's adjusted very well to that and I know that Tottenham are delighted with him.

"But it's a nice moment for him and his family to get a senior call-up."

Tickets for the game at the Ricoh Arena on Tuesday 13 October are on sale now, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for concessions. Click here or call 024 7678 6411 to purchase tickets.

By Nicholas Veevers