Sam Byram's form for Leeds United deserves England Under-21 call-up

Sam Byram has been putting in consistently good performances for a number of weeks.

21-year-old Byram had been struggling in the early stages of the season for Leeds, receiving a red card in the 4-1 loss at Watford under Dave Hockaday, before losing his place in the first-team under Darko Milanic.

The full-time appointment of Neil Redfearn has seen the former Academy prospect return to the starting XI, and, after appearing as a substitute in Redfearn’s first game in charge - the 3-1 loss to Cardiff - the Englishman has gone on to complete two consecutive games - winning four points in the process.

One of the highest rated talents outside the Premier League, Byram was reportedly a transfer target for Southampton over the summer, although he appears to have taken backwards steps this campaign. An England Under-20 call-up last summer was cancelled after suffering an injury in the closing stages of the 2012/13 league campaign, and he has always been out of the picture at Three Lions youth level since then.

However, his return to form under Redfearn should have been rewarded with a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s latest Under-21 squad for the upcoming friendlies with Portugal and France.

Having made 13 league appearances this season, if Byram was named in the squad he would immediately become the frequently selected defender called-up, with Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson sitting second on 10 appearances. Whilst the number of appearances made does not indicate quality, Byram surely deserves inclusion over Newcastle’s Jamaal Lascelles - on loan at Nottingham Forest - and Everton’s Luke Garbutt. The former has just six league appearances to his name this season - during which time he has failed to impress - whilst the Everton man has made a solitary League Cup appearance for the Toffee’s this term - hardly deserving of a call-up.

Carl Jenkinson is set to start in the right-back position for the Young Lions, but Southgate should be worried if the West Ham man suffers an injury, with no other natural right-sided defender in the squad. Byram’s inclusion would have solved this problem, whilst also offering cover at left-back - with Jack Robinson the only inclusion natural in that position - and at right midfield if choosing to play a defensive midfield rather than an offensive one including Nathan Redmond, Alex Pritchard and Tom Ince.

Maybe Byram was scouted for inclusion in the squad, and only missed out due to his recent return to the starting XI. But if he continues to perform as he has been doing, there is no denying that the talented youngster is well-deserving of a place in Southgate’s squad come the next international break.

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