England Under-21s boss Aidy Boothroyd believes the only way is up for the Young Lions after they were held to a draw by Sweden in their Euro opener.
Boothroyd’s side couldn’t find a breakthrough against the defending champions and had to thank keeper Jordan Pickford for a late penalty save.
- UEFA European U21 Championship Finals
- Group A
- Friday 16 June 2017
- Kielce Stadium, Poland
But the head coach admits that his team didn’t hit the heights he knows they can and will be able to take the positives from the performance ahead of Monday’s game with Group A rivals Slovakia.
“Well, the biggest talking point is going to be the penalty save, after Sweden’s breakaway attack and what we thought was a good tackle from Ben Chilwell at the time,” said Boothroyd.
“But Jordan stood up and saved the penalty and I think overall it was a fair result.
“It’s the first game of a tournament, it’s on the TV and everyone is a bit nervous and wants to make a good start.
“It was important that we did get a solid start and we didn’t want to finish with no points but we did want to get three.
“I thought we were a little bit safe in our passing and we didn’t play out anywhere near as well as we can and I think a lot of the lads were glad to get the first game over with and move on to the next one.
“You’ve got to give them credit, they get the best out of what they’ve got and look to score from breaks and set-pieces and really today it was us who were closer to scoring with a set piece.
“We’ve got two more games here and then we hope to progress, but it’s a solid start and despite everything that’s gone on, we remain calm.
“Even with players who have played at the highest level, when it comes to a game like this they want to do the best that they can and they become too tight and too tense.
“But now we’ve had a game and got that out of our system, it’s pleasing for the future.
“When we’re at our best, we can give anybody in the world a game, but it’s one of those things and if you don’t play to your best, you make sure you don’t get beaten.”
After a promising start from the Young Lions, Hakan Ericson’s team found a foothold in the game and managed to limit England’s opportunities.
And Boothroyd admits that is something which his side will have to overcome if they want to progress to the knock-out stage next week.
“We’ve had teams show us a lot of respect before which is a great credit to our players and we’ve got to be able to deal with that and adapt to it,” he added.
“I don’t think it was that which gave us our problems today, it was ourselves really.
“We didn’t get surprised by anything they did, but we didn’t play our game and we weren’t as good as what we can be so that gives us a lot of heart and encouragement going into the next game.
“We want to be in and around and in the hat, and I think tonight’s experience will do us the world of good.”