Leeds United and Tottenham youngsters among those who could have improved England under-21s

Three Lions close

Leeds and Tottenham players could have improved England's under-21 side, while an Arsenal defender should have been given greater responsibility.

England's under-21 side meekly bowed out at the group stages of this year's European Championships, with many individuals failing to live up to their own hype.

It was not only offensively they struggled, with just two goals in three games, but defensively the side were found wanting at key moments - and it cost them.

Gareth Southgate was not helped by a pre-tournament injury to West Brom striker Saido Berahino, and Everton defender John Stones missed the first two games with a concussion.

Then there were the deliberate omissions of senior stars like Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling, all eligible but considered 'above' selection.

The former Middlesbrough boss however did not help himself with his team selection. In central defence Leicester reserve Liam Moore was picked alongside Middlesbrough's Ben Gibson - while Arsenal's Calum Chambers, who impressed in the Champions League, sat on the bench as an unused substitute.

Tottenham Hotspur's Eric Dier did not even make the squad, falling out with Southgate over the manager's plan to play him at right-back, when the youngster wanted to play centrally.

This admittedly was a little of a primadonna move from the former Sporting Lisbon youngster, but had he been engaged by the manager properly - and played in his preferred position, he would have been a better choice at the back than both Moore and Gibson for the tournament matches.

In midfield, England fans were 'treated' to uninspiring displays from Nathaniel Chalobah who scored just one goal for Reading last season on loan, and Brighton's Jake Forster-Caskey.

Leeds United's Alex Mowatt was overlooked, despite the 20-year-old scoring goals from midfield last season in an impressive breakthrough campaign, finishing as the club's second highest goalscorer. A case could also be made for the younger Lewis Cook in defensive midfield ahead of Forster-Caskey.

Southgate had his team and was confident in it, but his faith was misplaced or ability just not up to scratch, and it will be back to the drawing board with many of the players no longer eligible for future tournaments.

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