Todd Cantwell believes the new-look England U21s are ready to kick-start their new Euro Qualifying campaign with a bang this month.
The Norwich City winger was among a number of players called into the U21s for the first time by Aidy Boothroyd last week, as the Young Lions aim to reach the next U21 EURO Finals in Hungary and Slovenia in 2021.
And after meeting up on Monday morning at St. George’s Park, the group have had to quickly find their feet in training ahead of Friday’s opening game with Turkey.
- UEFA European U21 Championship
- Group 3 Qualifier
- 6.45pm, Friday 6 September 2019
- Kocaeli Stadium, Izmit
“There’s a lot of new faces in the group, so it’s been about people getting to know each other for the first few days,” he said, from the squad’s base in Izmit.
“That helps to set the foundations so you have an understanding of the personalities and everything, but we’ve got some good players and I’m sure we can all click together and play well.
“We’ve got the foundations in place now with everybody working together and now we’re looking forward to Turkey.
“We’ve had a look at how we can counter-balance what they might want to do, with how we want to play so we’re hoping for a good result and to bring back the points.”
The 21 year old has caught the eye this season with the Canaries, following their promotion from the Championship last term.
He scored his first top-flight goal in their narrow defeat to Chelsea and is one of three Norwich players who made Boothroyd’s squad along with defenders Max Aarons and Ben Godfrey.
“It’s been brilliant,” he added.
“It was great that Max and Ben were called up at the same time so it’s nice to be here and it’s definitely somewhere that you want to be.
“We’ve known each other for quite a long time now, and we’re all playing week in and week out in the Premier League at the moment, which is great and being out here with England is an extra bonus really.
“The call came as a surprise, I wouldn’t say I was expecting it by any means.
“It’s been a good start to the season for me personally, but I wasn’t anticipating anything this early so it’s brilliant for me.”
While most of Boothroyd’s squad have featured for England teams over the last season, for Cantwell it’s a first call-up since 2014 when he was part of an U17s squad who travelled to Denmark for the Nordic Tournament.
He picked up four caps on that trip, and scored against Finland in a 1-1 draw, but hadn’t featured on the international stage since.
That never worried the Dereham-born midfielder too much though, as he explains.
“It was great at the time, I was absolutely over the moon, as you are whenever you get the call to play for your country,” he said.
“That was a really good tournament, it was nice for me at the time to get away and put on the shirt and it gave me a taste for it so I wanted to come back and play again in an England shirt.
“But I was pretty young, and people always said to me that the most important time to play for your country would be for the U21s and then breaking into the senior team.
“So I never really concentrated too much on breaking into the youth levels, but it’s going to be brilliant to be a part of it again.”
After Friday’s game in Turkey, the Young Lions head home to face Kosovo in Hull on Monday evening.BUY TICKETS FOR ENGLAND U21s v KOSOVO