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Changes needed for England U21s' vital European Championship clash with Romania?
England U21 vs Romania U21, live on Sky Sports Football from 5pm on Friday; kick-off is 5.30pm
Last Updated: 21/06/19 4:26pm
England must beat Romania on Friday to keep their European U21 Championships hopes alive. Boss Aidy Boothroyd has key selection decisions to make...
"Football's not fair, is it?"
That was Aidy Boothroyd's assessment after watching the valiant efforts of his 10-man England U21 side ultimately count for nothing when two late France goals condemned them to a 2-1 defeat in their European Championship opener on Tuesday.
There had been plenty of optimism and excitement about what Boothroyd's talented group of players could achieve in Italy this summer. Now, given the qualifying procedure for the knockout phase, that loss has left England facing the prospect of a group-stage exit.
Only the three group winners and one runner-up will proceed to the semi-finals stage of the competition.
England's defeat to France, along with results in the other groups, mean their fate is now out of their hands.
They need France to drop points in both of their two remaining fixtures to top Group C, as head-to-head results split teams level on points. Or they must hope for favourable results in other groups to finish as the best second-placed side.
It's a complicated scenario but, as Boothroyd told Sky Sports on Tuesday, his team must "stay focussed, not sulk, and just get on with it." And that starts with the must-win clash with Romania on Friday.
That will be no easy task after Romania hammered Croatia 4-1 in their opener - and Boothroyd may be tempted to tinker with his side for the all-or-nothing contest.
Here, we look at some options open to the manager…
Stick with Wan-Bissaka?
Ahead of this tournament, Boothroyd had described it as a chance to "showcase" England's best young talent - but hotly-rated Aaron Wan-Bissaka will want to forget the defeat to France in a hurry.
Manchester United had seen a £50m bid for the Crystal Palace right-back rejected earlier in the week but Wan-Bissaka had a tough night up against France's impressive Jonathan Bamba, struggled to use the ball effectively in the final third and made the decisive mistake in injury-time, skewing his clearance into his own net.
The obvious alternative would be to switch in Everton's Jonjoe Kenny, who made 10 Premier League appearances last season and helped England to their Toulon tournament victory under Boothroyd last summer. Wan-Bissaka, though - given the excellent season he has behind him - is likely to be given another chance.
Who replaces Choudhury?
Boothroyd will definitely have to make a change in midfield, where Hamza Choudhury is suspended after his reckless foul on Houssem Aouar earned him a red card, handed France one of their two penalties and left his team-mates with an uphill battle for the final half-hour.
On Tuesday, Choudhury's Leicester team-mate James Maddison dropped into the holding role, with fellow starter Phil Foden and sub Mason Mount slightly more advanced in the midfield three.
While it is far from ideal for Maddison to be restrained in that deeper position, on paper he is England's strongest alternative and will most likely be joined by the team's other most accomplished midfielders, Mount and Foden, in the middle of the park against Romania.
Change up front?
Boothroyd suggested England's poor finishing in the first half against France could have cost them victory on Tuesday and a below-par Dominic Solanke could make way for the follow-up clash with Romania.
The Bournemouth frontman clipped a good chance wide before fading as the game wore on against France and, with talented options on the bench, Boothroyd could freshen up his frontline with Tammy Abraham and Dominic Calvert-Lewin waiting in the wings.
There were positives for England against France, though, and, despite England's strength in depth, Boothroyd will stand by the majority of his starters from the opening fixture.
Ryan Sessegnon and Demarai Gray, for instance, looked particularly dangerous in the wide areas, while Foden's brilliant individual goal, Maddison's mature performance in midfield and some smart stops from keeper Dean Henderson underlined the ability this group of players have.
Whoever Boothroyd selects on Friday, the pressure will be on the players to step up and show off that talent...
All the ways to watch the tournament...
England face Romania on Friday at 5.30pm in their second Group C clash, and every game during the UEFA European Under-21 Championship will be shown live on Sky Sports.
Sky Sports subscribers will also be able to stream the games via the Sky Sports app or the Sky Go app.
Non-subscribers can watch all the action through NOW TV. A Sky Sportsday pass is available for £8.99, a week pass for £14.99 or a month pass for £33.99. NOW TV can be streamed through a computer or apps.