England U21s: Which Young Lions could be next in Gareth Southgate's senior squad?
England U21s face Andorra and Scotland
By Peter Lynch
Last Updated: 11/10/18 1:56pm
James Maddison and Mason Mount have made the step up from England's U21s to the senior squad for Nations League ties with Croatia and Spain. But which other youngsters are pushing for a promotion?
The U21s have European Championship qualifiers at home to Andorra and Scotland during this international break and boss Aidy Boothroyd has praised the pathway senior team boss Gareth Southgate has opened up. "He believes in youth, the system that we have and the way that we work," Boothroyd told the FA website. "So when the senior team get injuries, his first thought is to call me and look into the U21s squad."
So which of Boothroyd's players could be next in line for a call-up? We take a look at five exciting talents in the U21s which Southgate will no doubt be keeping a close eye on…
Harvey Barnes (West Brom, on loan from Leicester)
Twenty-year-old Harvey Barnes has earned his first call-up to Aidy Boothroyd's side having impressed in the Championship this season, yet may already be looking towards a position in the senior squad. Currently on a season-long loan from Leicester, the West Brom winger scored six goals in 10 matches for England's U20s and looks set to play a key role in the U21 setup in the current international break.
Barnes boasts an impressive five goals and three assists in all competitions this campaign and seemingly has all the potential to force his way into the senior side in the not too distant future, with parent club Leicester reportedly keen on a recall for the attacker in January.
Reiss Nelson (Hoffenheim, on loan from Arsenal)
Another debutant and a further young English talent to make his way to the Bundesliga this season, Reiss Nelson has been rewarded with a call-up to the U21s having impressed in Germany at Hoffenheim. The on-loan Arsenal forward scored his second goal of the campaign after coming on as a second-half substitute in his side's loss to Frankfurt at the weekend, yet may adopt a more central role in the upcoming meetings with Andorra and Scotland.
A popular figure in the Arsenal academy, the 18-year-old has represented England from the U16s right through to the U20s, and now has the chance to prove himself at the next level given his inclusion in the U21 set-up. Having netted three goals in four games at the 2016 UEFA European U17 Championship, Nelson made the team of the tournament, catching the eye higher up in the English camp.
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
In a young squad brimming with talent, Phil Foden is perhaps the name that offers the most excitement. At just 18, the creative midfielder has both a U17 World Cup and a Premier League trophy to his name, and Boothroyd has praised the Manchester City player ahead of a potential debut against Andorra.
The manager told Press Association: "He is a massive talent, we want him to get games and the more he gets the better he'll become.
"He's also training with the best players in the world and the current champions. He is going to get a great education at Manchester City."
Foden will undoubtedly feature heavily in the upcoming U21 fixtures, and will be bursting with confidence after appearing five times for City this season, including a man-of-the-match performance in his side's 3-0 Carabao Cup victory over Oxford in late September.
Dean Henderson (Sheffield United, on loan from Manchester United)
On loan from Manchester United, goalkeeper Dean Henderson has helped Sheffield United to the top of the Championship this season, and has cemented his No 1 status for club and England's U21s with several imposing performances.
The 21-year-old is another to have worked his way through the national team ranks, and will be looking to eventually push Jordan Pickford, as well as challenge for the coveted top spot at Old Trafford. "One more step to go - the senior team," he told MUTV after signing a new Old Trafford deal this summer. "I'm eyeing that up in the next couple of years and that's what I'm working towards.
Henderson has been a regular for the U21s since his debut against Romania earlier this year, and has already become a firm favourite among the Sheffield United faithful for some key saves to go with his crowd-pleasing celebrations.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has burst onto the scene this season, and has played a major part in Crystal Palace's stern defensive displays in recent weeks. The London-born youngster perhaps boasts the most unconventional beginnings with the national team, having represented DR Congo U20s in an 8-0 friendly loss to England U17s in 2015.
Having favoured his English heritage, Wan-Bissaka then received a red card on his England U20 debut, before progressing into Boothroyd's U21 plans, making his debut in the goalless draw with the Netherlands in September.
Wan-Bissaka's attitude and tenacity have proven hugely popular among the Crystal Palace support, while his on-field performances have not gone unnoticed, with the 20-year-old's 15 interceptions the highest of any English player in the Premier League. With 29 clearances and 32 tackles - second only to Everton's Idrissa Gueye - the defender has been a rare story of optimism in an otherwise disappointing campaign thus far for The Eagles.
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