Southgate considers options

As the new season comes closer into sight, England Under-21s boss Gareth Southgate is considering his options as the Euro qualification campaign gets back underway.

Southgate’s squad face a double trip to Lithuania and Moldova for their final group qualifiers in early September, already knowing that they’ve done enough to secure top spot in the group and a place in October’s play-offs.

After seeing a number of his Under-21 players already starting to challenge for a spot in Roy Hodgson’s senior squad, Southgate is well aware of the progression in place for his charges.

England Under-21s head coach Gareth Southgate.

Southgate has led England Under-21s to top spot in their Euro group

Raheem Sterling, Luke Shaw and John Stones all featured under Southgate last season, before their form at club level saw them move into the senior reckoning ahead of the World Cup.

And with the likes of Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones and Jack Wilshere already established in the senior squad whilst still young enough to play in the Euro U21 Finals in Czech Republic next summer should England get there, Southgate and Hodgson have to weigh up their own squad options.

“We do have a number of players who haven’t even featured yet who could still come back in,” admitted Southgate.

“But I think you would want to take the lads who have been a part of the qualification, if we were still involved.

“I would want to give those lads who have been a part of it an opportunity.”

But the former Crystal Palace and Aston Villa player is realistic enough to know that should his side qualify for the finals, some of the players who are more established in the senior ranks would most likely miss the trip.

“There’s a difference between people like Ross [Barkley], who hasn’t been involved in a game for us this year or been part of the group,” he explained.

“Once they’ve been involved in it a few times, you’ve gone through the system and it’s not an appropriate challenge for them.

“But it’s something that we’ll look at as the season progresses.”

The Under-21s’ next match is on Friday 5 September when they face Lithuania in Kaunas, before moving on to Tiraspol where they will play Moldova in their final qualifier on Tuesday 9 September.