Manager Gareth Southgate is slowly bedding into his role as England under-21 manager, and has picked a ridiculously strong squad for the 2015 European under-21 Championship qualification matches against Finland and San Marino.
The two games are ones that England expects to win, there cannot be any doubt about that. I imagine for a few players in the squad, the call-up to the Under-21 squad is more about headline grabbing to push themselves into the mind of Roy Hodgson.
With that in mind, I take a look at the 5 players I expect to impress this week, for the England under 21s:
Carl Jenkinson – The Arsenal full-back has been sparsely used this season for Arsenal, due to the form of French International Bacary Sagna.
I still believe that given the options at Right Back in the national side, the young gunner will fancy himself to be in with a shout come the end of the season, depending on form of himself in games like this one. He has already earned an England cap, so the former Charlton man will be hungry for more.
Luke Shaw – The Southampton full-back has been in terrific form this season and has helped his side to an unprecedented 3rd place position.
The young left back is touted by many as one of the most promising prospects in the country, and with there always being 1 or 2 ‘shock’ call-ups i.e Oxlade Chamberlain and Theo Walcott then he will perhaps be in the mind of the manager, but will need to pull a rabbit out of the hat due to his competition being 2 of the top 5 left backs in the world.
He is a determined young player, and will throw everything into it during the international break for the under-21s.
Ravel Morrison – The former Manchester United troubled youngster has found his feet this season, and his form as been every bit as exciting as some of those currently in the England set-up, so he will fancy his chances.
Unfortunately, a troubled past will continue to follow him round like a grey cloud but, described by Sir Alex Ferguson as one of the best young talent’s he has ever seen, and now finally coming to form, he has a great chance of putting himself in the hat.
Wilfried Zaha – The United winger has found this season frustrating more than anything else, and a year on since his England debut he will want to get himself back into the picture.
The qualifiers for the under-21s is a great chance for the player to get himself back on the pitch playing a high standard of football again, stuck in the reserves can kill the motivation of any player especially as he has been capped for the national side.
It’s going to be difficult for him, but I believe there is a chance he could end up with a call-up for Brazil, he certainly has an outside chance If he performs well.
Raheem Sterling – The player that made way for Zaha to make his debut will be playing along side him in the next week, as both players are looking a bit out of sorts. Recently linked with a loan move away from the club, the youth players progression could take a kick start that it needs.
Again, like the other players mentioned this is a good chance for him to get precious game time and get back in the England shirt again.
I think he’ll find it extremely difficult to get back into the England side, but you never know – if he is to do it, he needs to improve quickly.
image: © Tom Brogan