Boothroyd sets double target for England U19s at Euro Finals

Wednesday 27 Apr 2016
England Under-19s head coach Aidy Boothroyd

England Under-19s head coach Aidy Boothroyd takes his squad to Germany this summer with the double aim of a European Championship title and an U20 World Cup spot.

The Young Lions secured their place in the last eight of the competition last month, knocking out holders Spain in the process, during the Elite Qualifying Round.

They will now face France, Netherlands and Croatia in the group stage of the Euro Finals in Germany this July knowing that a top-two group finish will guarantee them a spot at next year’s World Cup in South Korea.

UEFA European U19 Championship

The Finals
11-24 July 2016

But Boothroyd knows his squad will have to be at their best and fully focused if they are to follow up their Euro success at Under-17 level two years ago.

"When you get to this stage of the competition and you look at some of the teams who are not going, you realise how difficult it is to qualify and also the quality of the groups," he said.

"It was an Elite Qualifying Round we came through, which has the word elite at the end of it, so we knew it would get us to where we want to be: with the best in Europe.

"And the teams that are in the group at the finals mean it will be very, very difficult but we’re right in there."

Watch highlights as Boothroyd's side beat Japan last March

The squad won’t be going into the games blind, though, having already faced two of the three nations this campaign.

They earned a 1-1 draw with Croatia in Zagreb last September and were also held by the Dutch two months later having previously faced them at U18 and U17 level in previous seasons.

"Part of the programme of games that we have is to try and play the best teams in all of our age groups so we have got a fair idea of what to expect," explained Boothroyd.

"We played Germany earlier this season as well as Croatia and we’ve played the Dutch too so we have a fair idea about those teams.

"But, at the same time, we know that the teams in the groups will be very difficult and we start with the French in our first game and they’re always strong."

Group B Fixtures

France v England
6.30pm, Tuesday 12 July
Arena Heidenheim

Netherlands v England
11am, Friday 15 July
Donaustadion, Ulm

England v Croatia
11am, Monday 18 July
Arena Heidenheim

Only five World Cup spots are up for grabs for the eight nations in the finals, which means the four semi-finalists will be joined by the winner of a play-off between the two teams who finish third in their group.

So Boothroyd is keen to make sure that England secure their place at the biennial U20 World Cup, having missed out in 2015.

"If we do well in the early games, that could set us up for the U20 World Cup, which is the first aim for us," he revealed.

"After that, we want to do very well in the tournament and this group has done very well in the past.

"We want to qualify and be involved in all of the best tournaments as it’s what helps our players on their pathway to hopefully becoming full senior internationals.

"If we can get those experiences, it’s something which helps them as players for club and for country."

By Nicholas Veevers