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European Championship Qualification U-21

Boothroyd expects his Young Lions to thrive in tough European Championship group

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England's Under 21s were in fine form during qualifying

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ByPA Sport
23/11/2018 at 18:06 | Updated 23/11/2018 at 22:44

England Under-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd says being drawn with France, Romania and Croatia at next year’s European Championship will bring the best out of his Young Lions.

Boothroyd’s side will open their Italy 2019 campaign in Group C against France on June 18, before taking on Romania three days later and the Croatians on June 24.

England, who beat Denmark 5-1 on Tuesday, are among the favourites having qualified unbeaten. They were one of the top three seeds in the draw and thus avoided hosts Italy and defending champions Germany.

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But France were also unbeaten in qualifying, as were Romania, while Croatia topped their group ahead of Greece and the Czech Republic.

Left to right: Croatia U21 head coach Nenad Gracan, France U21 head coach Sylvain Ripoll, Aidy Boothroyd and Romania U21 head coach Mirel Matei Radoi

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“When you reel off the teams it’s certainly not going to be easy but if we are going to keep our momentum going it’s a group we are looking to get out of,” Under-21 boss Boothroyd said.

When we start being one of the favourites, and we’re seeded, there is an expectation that comes with that, but that’s good. You need an opponent to bring the best out of you and these three certainly will.

“It’s a tough one but it’s one that, all being well, is not beyond our control.”

The Championship begins just 10 days after the senior squad play in the Nations League semi-finals, which Boothroyd admits could impact his squad selection with Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate continually looking to promote youth.

Boothroyd knows his side will be among the favourites at next summer's tournament

Image credit: Getty Images

“It has a big effect because we want to win at senior level, that’s always the priority,” added Boothroyd.

“But we don’t have to name a squad until 10 days before the first game and a lot can happen between now and then be it fitness, form, injury, Gareth taking players, all kinds of things.

As time rolls on we’ll see who’s in the play-offs, who’s in the Champions League, who’s in the Premier League and just plan as much as we can before we get down to the business of playing.

“We’re in a fortunate position; we’re in a good run of form, we have good players, some depth, and England are going into tournaments as potential winners. We go into every game and every tournament looking to win it – but there’s another 11 teams that are going to try to stop us.

Group A pits Italy against Spain, Poland and Belgium while Group B consists of Germany, Denmark and Austria. The final takes place on June 30.

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FootballEuropean Championship Qualification U-21England U-21
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