November sees Aidy Boothroyd take his England men’s under-21s into their final two games before the first stage of next year’s U21 EURO Finals.
Under usual circumstances, the Young Lions head coach would be preparing for a tournament next summer, but given the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak the 2021 Finals are being played over two spells and kick-off with the group stages in March before the knockout section later in the summer.
That means November’s last two qualifying games against Andorra and Albania will be the final chance for Boothroyd to try out anything new on the pitch before the Finals begin, when usually he would have the March window to prepare.
But having already seen a large number of players in his age group from over the course of the qualification campaign, he’s also keeping an open mind with regards his squad selection going into the new year.
“Without a shadow of a doubt there’s still a chance for others to make the squad,” he said.
“When you’ve got players as good as we’ve got and players who are fit, on form and playing then there’s every opportunity for them.
“This camp gives me the opportunity to meet and get to know some of the other players that I haven’t known before and to find out if they are ready to get a seat on the plane.”
Both Friday’s game with Andorra (7.30pm) and then next Tuesday’s clash with Albania (7.25pm) take place at Molineux and with England’s qualification secured after a victory over Turkey at the home of Wolves last month, it’ll be an opportunity to test his charges out in competitive games.
“Andorra will be direct and strong and difficult at set-pieces but we feel like we owe them one, after the result we got there [3-3 last month],” he added.
“Fair play to them, the way they set up the game and the way that they played made it tough for some of our younger players.
“But that’s what the system is about and that’s why we do what we do, because at some point or other some of those younger players are going to play in a similar situation with the Senior team, so to have lived it, gone through it and experienced it is always good.
“Albania will be fluid, look to play through us. Having watched them play a few times, I have been really impressed with them and thought they might be one of our big challengers in the group.
“They beat the Austrians 5-1 away, which is a terrific result – so they are going to be very difficult opposition as well.
“But again it gives me an opportunity to test the players I have picked against good opposition.
“There are things we can practice in this particular series of games that can help us for March and then hopefully May.”
Both of the MU21s’ games will be shown live on BT Sport.