Three new faces in England U21s squad to face Switzerland

Thursday 17 Mar 2016
Isaac Hayden, Rolando Aarons and Matt Grimes

Gareth Southgate will welcome three new faces into his England Under-21s squad for next Saturday's UEFA European Championship Qualifier against Switzerland in Thun.

The Young Lions head coach has handed first calls Blackburn Rovers' Swansea City loanee Matt Grimes, the Newcastle United winger Rolando Aarons, and Isaac Hayden, on loan at Hull City from Arsenal, after injuries deprived him of a number of established players.

Switzerland v England 

UEFA European U21 Championship
Stockhorn Arena, Thun
6pm (GMT) Saturday 26 March 

Duncan Watmore, Nathaniel Chalobah and Nathan Redmond have all been ruled out, but Southgate is eager to see what the trio – and the uncapped Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell who spent time with the squad last time out – can do in a new environment.

"This has been a different challenge. Over the last 18 months we have had a really settled squad," he said. 

"The first four camps of this campaign we have had a lot of new players to integrate, quite a few players who have stepped up to the first team and unfortunately we have lost quite a few players to injury. 

"It's an opportunity for new players but also quite a lot of work for us to do to get the harmony within the group."

Southgate is confident that none of the new players are unknown quantities, however, all having played through the age groups.

"It helps on that they know the way that we want to try and play. They know the players that are playing alongside them and it means that adapting to play at their best level can happen a bit more quickly. 

"So even if they have not worked with us as a group of coaching staff they are used to coming to St. George's Park and they are used to the other players."

Grimes, for example, has captained the England U20s side from central or wide midfield, and his call-up comes after a spell of regular first-team football on loan at Blackburn.

England U21s face Switzerland next week - who they defeated 3-1 in Brighton

"He has performed really well with our U20s last year, and over the last couple of months he has been in that group. We've very much used that group as a bridge to our squad. 

"We wanted them to know that we are watching them very closely and that, although they might not have been with the Under-21s, because we wanted them to get match-time, there is an opportunity to progress."

Southgate said of Hayden, who plays either as a central defender or midfielder: "He has played at quite a number of levels for us. I have seen him play quite a few times with Hull and he has done a reliable job with them. He can play in a variety of different positions.

"He is a good character which is important to us. This in an important opportunity for us with Nathaniel Chalobah and Nathan Redmond missing through injury, it is an opportunity for the lads to come in and show us what they can do.

Aarons has been playing at full-back for Newcastle in recent weeks, but Southgate is counting on him helping fill the void left by Watmore and Redmond. 

"We see him as a wide player and we are in a situation where, unfortunately, Duncan Watmore has an injury, and Nathan Redmond has been a key player for us and he is out. 

"For Rolando it is an opportunity for him to come with the Under-21s for the first time and a chance to impress us and get an understanding of the way we work."

England defeated Switzerland 3-1 last time out in a spicy encounter at Brighton & Hove Albion, and they sit three points clear at the top of Group 9, halfway into their eight-game qualification campaign.

England Under-21s battled hard for a point in Bosnia in November

Southgate said: "The game in Brighton was a good game in terms of quality but it also had an edge to it. We had to come back from a goal behind, and in Bosnia we did well to draw after playing for a long period with 10 men.

"Over the past few years we have scored quite a lot of away goals, so we know we are a team that never stops, and this return fixture [in Switzerland] will have an edge I'm sure. 

"Switzerland will want to get revenge for the result but it is a key game for us in terms of qualifying for the Finals, and a good preparation for the Toulon Tournament this summer."

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Sunderland), Christian Walton (Brighton & Hove Albion), Joe Wildsmith (Sheffield Wednesday).

Defenders: Calum Chambers (Arsenal), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Brendan Galloway (Everton), Kortney Hause (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Dominic Iorfa (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Jack Stephens (Coventry City; on loan from Southampton), Matt Targett (Southampton).

Midfielders: Lewis Baker (Vitesse Arnhem; on loan from Chelsea), Matt Grimes (Blackburn Rovers; on loan from Swansea City), Isaac Hayden (Hull City; on loan from Arsenal), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), John Swift (Brentford; on loan from Chelsea), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton).

Forwards: Rolando Aarons (Newcastle United), Chuba Akpom (Hull City; on loan from Arsenal), Demarai Gray (Leicester City), Jordon Ibe (Liverpool), Dominic Solanke (Vitesse Arnhem; on loan from Chelsea), James Wilson (Brighton & Hove Albion; on loan from Manchester Utd).

By FA Staff