England Under-21 men's head coach Aidy Boothroyd has named his squad for September’s return to action with a double-header on the road in Kosovo and Austria.
The Young Lions resume their U21 EURO qualifying campaign behind closed doors on Friday 4 September when they travel to take on Kosovo in Pristina (6pm BST), before heading to Ried im Innkreis for the meeting with Austria on Tuesday 8 September (7.30pm BST). The Austrians are level on 12 points with unbeaten England at the top of Group 3, although have played a game more.
Boothroyd's selection sees the return of Arsenal forward Eddie Nketiah, after injury caused him to miss last November’s qualifier in Albania and the non-competition fixture in the Netherlands, alongside club colleagues Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson.
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham and Brentford midfielder Josh Dasilva, a MU19 EURO winner back in 2017, are also included for the first time at this age group.
Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi is back with the squad, having been involved with the senior set-up in the last international window ten months ago.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Ryan Sessegnon and Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster are also among those involved again, having begun pre-season in goalscoring form for their clubs.
“We’re all really looking forward to meeting up for the first time since November,” said Boothroyd.
“We have two testing away matches against our closest rivals in the group and it’ll be a good opportunity for the players to come together again, even if it will be an unusual experience with no crowds at either of the fixtures.
“We had a 2-0 home victory against Kosovo in Hull a year ago and I remember they made things difficult for us with a disciplined defensive performance.
“After that, we played really well in a 5-1 win against Austria in Milton Keynes, which I’m sure our hosts will want to make amends for when we make the return trip.
“We know we are in good shape for the qualification and this is a hungry squad that have a great opportunity in front of them with next summer’s finals not too far away.
“We have to get the job done first and these will be two tough fixtures. I am looking forward to seeing the players again and helping them with another key stage in their development.”
The group will meet up at St. George’s Park on Monday, with the camp being operated under strict COVID-19 protocols, before heading to Kosovo for the first game later in the week.
Boothroyd added: “We know this remains a challenging time and I am grateful for the efforts of everyone involved, particularly our medical staff. It is always a privilege to be representing your country and we cannot wait to get going again.”
Max Aarons (Norwich City), Brandon Austin (Tottenham Hotspur), Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Rhian Brewster (Liverpool), Josef Bursik (Doncaster Rovers – loan from Stoke City), Todd Cantwell (Norwich City), Josh Dasilva (Brentford), Tom Davies (Everton), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Ben Godfrey (Norwich City), Marc Guehi (Chelsea), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Reece James (Chelsea), James Justin (Leicester City), Lloyd Kelly (AFC Bournemouth), Reiss Nelson (Arsenal), Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal), Jonathan Panzo (AS Monaco), Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ryan Sessegnon (Tottenham Hotspur), Oliver Skipp (Norwich City – loan from Tottenham Hotspur)