England have named their squad for the 2018 UEFA European U19 Championship, as the Young Lions look to retain their title in Finland.
Head coach Paul Simpson has selected a 20-player squad for the tournament, with the Young Lions facing Turkey in Seinajoki on Tuesday (kick-off 4.30pm BST) in the first of three group games.
- The Finals
- 16-29 July 2018
- Live on Sky Sports
After successfully guiding his squad through two rounds of qualifiers this season, Simpson’s group for the Finals contains experience in the shape of Trevoh Chalobah, Dujon Sterling and Ben Brereton, who were all part of last year’s title-winning squad.
There are also three first-time call-ups among the squad with midfielders Tom Bayliss of Coventry City, Kelland Watts of Newcastle United and Max Sanders of Brighton & Hove Albion all in an England squad for the first time.
And there’s also a return for players such as Wolves striker Niall Ennis, Ipswich Town’s Ben Morris and defender Nathan Ferguson of West Bromwich Albion, who have previously been capped at younger age groups in recent years.
Fleetwood Town’s William Crellin has also travelled to Finland to work with the squad as a training goalkeeper.
Following Tuesday’s opener, the Young Lions will face Ukraine on Friday 20 July (4.30pm) and then France on Monday 23 July (4.30pm) in Vaasa, before the Finals head into the knock-out stage.
Should England progress from their group as one of the top two and reach the semi-finals, they will also qualify for next year’s FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland, a competition which Simpson knows well having won it with England in 2017.
“We’re going to Finland to try and win, but the main objective for this group of players is tournament experience,” said Simpson.
“We ideally want to achieve at least a semi-final spot or better as it will guarantee our place in next year’s U20s World Cup and this group is more than capable of that.
“We met up as a squad last Tuesday and had a really good week of training at St. George’s Park. We have eight new faces we have introduced to the group and everyone has settled in well, worked hard and I’m really looking forward to seeing them play these games.
“It’s massive for a player’s development to experience tournament football at a young age. We’re giving this group of players that experience here, which they will hopefully take into next summer’s U20s World Cup, and then further into their careers.
“It’s a challenge of living together for a period of time, a game every two or three days, pressure of penalty shootouts – everything you can get in a senior Euros or World Cup.
“They all want to play for England. There is a huge buzz around England at the moment, especially because of what the senior team have done in Russia, and it’s now up to us to go and continue that positive feeling.”
The tournament has been scheduled to take place during the busy domestic football pre-season period.
And FA technical director Dan Ashworth added: “It’s bitterly disappointing that, once again, this tournament is scheduled outside a FIFA window which forces clubs to make such difficult decisions.
“We understand the dilemmas the clubs face around release of players during this particular time of the season and it’s our view, and that of several other countries, that UEFA should take this into account when scheduling tournaments of this magnitude.
“It’s the same situation for every country here and this surely impacts the value of the tournament. We all want our teams to be facing the best players in the world to really provide the greatest developmental impact.
“Hopefully, UEFA will finally look at this properly and schedule the tournament at a sensible time in the season in the future for the benefit of the players, clubs, international teams and the competition itself.
“That said, I am confident in the players that we have at this tournament and it gives them all a brilliant opportunity."
All England matches at the Finals will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
Goalkeepers: Ellery Balcombe (Brentford), Jamie Cumming (Chelsea)
Defenders: Trevoh Chalobah (Ipswich Town, on loan from Chelsea), Nathan Ferguson (West Bromwich Albion), Ed Francis (Almere City, on loan from Manchester City), Tariq Lamptey (Chelsea), Dujon Sterling (Coventry City, on loan from Chelsea), Japhet Tanganga (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Tom Bayliss (Coventry City), Elliot Embleton (Sunderland), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Nya Kirby (Crystal Palace), Adam Lewis (Liverpool), Max Sanders (Brighton & Hove Albion), Marcus Tavernier (Middlesbrough), Kelland Watts (Newcastle United)
Forwards: Ben Brereton (Nottingham Forest), Niall Ennis (Wolverhampton Wanderers), George Hirst (OH Leuven), Ben Morris (Ipswich Town)