Men's Under 21s
Men's Under 21s

After making nine changes to his team, U21s boss praises Young Lions' squad strength

Tuesday 05 Sep 2017
England U21s boss Aidy Boothroyd was pleased with his side's display against Latvia

Aidy Boothroyd revealed the strength in depth of his squad gave him the confidence to make nine changes to his England U21s team.

The Young Lions ran out as comfortable 3-0 winners over Latvia in Bournemouth to pick up their first win of the new Euro qualifying campaign, having drawn 1-1 with the Netherlands in their opener last Friday.

England 3-0 Latvia
  • UEFA European U21 Championship
  • Group F
  • Tuesday 5 September 2017
  • Vitality Stadium, AFC Bournemouth
  • Live on BT Sport

And the head coach raised a few eyebrows by fully utilising his squad, with Demarai Gray, Tammy Abraham and Kasey Palmer all scoring and only captain Joe Gomez and midfielder Lewis Cook remaining in the line-up from Friday.

“I thought long and hard about it, because you want to get the team cohesive and working together but we have a real depth of talent and I wanted to freshen it up,” revealed Boothroyd.

“I wanted to have a look at everybody and we’ve had a good points return and some good performances.

“We had been a little bitty over both of the games, but in the end we’ll take that as we can’t expect them to be flying around this early in the season.

“It’s good that we’ve got these lads and we have as strong and as deep a talent pool as what we have at any age group.

“They’ve got a lot of belief in themselves but they also know they’ve got a long way to go too.

“We’re trying to look forward two years and we want to qualify for the Euros again, but we want to be the best team rather than the best individuals, so we need to work on getting the best out of them as a team.”

Boothroyd was impressed by a number of individuals in the victory too, particularly from the forward line and AFC Bournemouth man Cook, who was lining up on his home turf.

Demarai Gray put Boothroyd's side ahead with a fine strike

“I thought he [Cook] was our best player tonight, he was absolutely brilliant,” added Boothroyd.

“He is not only a really good footballer but as a character he is top drawer and he always wants to learn and get better.

“I think Bournemouth have got a real player on their hands, we really think a lot of him and I know Eddie [Howe, Bournemouth manager] does as well.

“Demarai did really well, at one point I thought he was going to play in every position on the pitch as he was running around that much.

“He’s got enormous amounts of ability and his goal showed that.

“I thought both him and Sheyi Ojo did well and I was pleased with their performances.”

Boothroyd’s squad will be back in action next month, when they face Scotland at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on Friday 6 October before taking on Andorra away.

By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels at Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth