Young Lions Berahino and Chambers chosen in Under-21 squad
England Under-21s manager Gareth Southgate has named his 24-man squad for upcoming friendlies this month, in preparation for this year’s European Championships in the Czech Republic.
Among those selected for games against the Czech Republic and Germany are Arsenal defender Calum Chambers and West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino, who have returned after previously being called up to Roy Hodgson’s senior international set-up.
Former Under-19s captain Chambers was named in Southgate’s squad last year, but never made an appearance due to being called upon as a replacement in the senior squad by Hodgson. His current employers Arsenal are odds-on 4/5 favourites to lift this year’s FA Cup trophy.
Baggies marksman Berahino was involved in a similar situation, as he missed the Under-21 games in November after being called into his country’s first-team. The prolific poacher will be targeting a win with the Baggies against Manchester City in his latest club outing and is 7/2 to strike anytime at the Etihad Stadium.
Southgate’s promising squad will be heading to Prague at the end of this month to contest this summer’s European Championship hosts before flying back to Middlesbrough for another warm-up game with fellow finalists Germany.
Also featuring in the selected squad is John Stones, who returns to this level after his impressive displays for Everton earned him a call-up to the senior set-up last year.
The talented Toffees defender was a key member of Southgate’s defensive unit for early qualifying matches, but his previous outing came a year ago in a victory against close rivals Wales.
Brilliant Burnley forward Danny Ings was tipped for a senior selection this month after his potent performances in front of goal in the Premier League this current campaign, but he is set to continue at Under-21 level for now.
In-form Ings has struck nine goals in 26 top-flight appearances this term to give the Clarets a fighting chance of avoiding relegation to the Championship, although his exploits have not warranted him a place in Hodgson’s first-team, with Harry Kane expectedly sealing his first ever call-up instead.
Sean Dyche’s men are even-money to secure their top-flight status this year, with Ings set to play a vital role in that bid to beat the drop.
Southampton duo James Ward-Prowse and Matt Targett have been rewarded for their regular action in the top-flight this season with call-ups as well. Saints star Ward-Prowse returns to the squad after injury-stricken spells last year, while teammate Targett gains his maiden selection.
As well as defensive options being strengthened, Manchester United’s loaned-out attacker Jesse Lingard is back in the fold after missing out through a troublesome injury last year, with a loan switch to Derby County working wonders for the Old Trafford prospect.
The squad are set to meet up soon ahead of the Czech Republic clash on March 27 and an anticipated Germany encounter on March 30.
Southgate will lead his Under-21 side out for their first European Championship game on June 18, as they hope to progress from Group B, which includes Portugal, Italy and Sweden.
Full squad list: Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham), Jonathan Bond (Watford), Jack Butland (Stoke City), Calum Chambers (Arsenal), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Garbutt (Everton), Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough), Carl Jenkinson (West Ham United – loan from Arsenal), Michael Keane (Burnley), Liam Moore (Brentford – loan from Leicester City), John Stones (Everton), Matt Targett (Southampton), Tom Carroll (Swansea City – loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Chalobah (Reading – loan from Chelsea), Jake Forster-Caskey (Brighton and Hove Albion), Will Hughes (Derby County), Jesse Lingard (Derby County – loan from Manchester United), Alex Pritchard (Brentford – loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Nathan Redmond (Norwich City), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough – loan from Chelsea), Saido Berahino (West Bromwich Albion), Danny Ings (Burnley), Callum Wilson (AFC Bournemouth).