Aidy Boothroyd defends England Under-21s work after Euros exit

‘Is it winning or development?’: Aidy Boothroyd defends his work as England U21s manager despite another early exit from the Euros as he insists he’s ‘doing what’s required’ to provide Gareth Southgate with senior players

  • England Under-21s exited the European Championships at the group stage again
  • Aidy Boothroyd has overseen two first-round Euros exits as Young Lions boss
  • The 50-year-old has defended his work as Under-21s manager amid poor results
  • Boothroyd says he has done well in preparing the young stars for senior football

Aidy Boothroyd has defended his work as England Under-21s manager after another European Championships exit – insisting he is doing well at his job in producing players ready for the Three Lions senior team.

The Young Lions finished bottom of their Under-21s Euros group stage for the second successive edition of the tournament as Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over Croatia was not enough to take them through to the knockout stages.

Boothroyd now faces an uncertain future as manager of the Under-21s with his contract expiring this summer, but the 50-year-old insisted he is still doing a good job in getting players ready for senior international football despite the poor results. 

Aidy Boothroyd defended his work as England Under-21s boss after another Euros exit

The Young Lions crashed out at the group stage of the Euros once again this month

Boothroyd said after the Croatia defeat: ‘I’m fielding a lot of questions about my future. The other key thing we are talking about is the role – is it winning or development? It’s a little bit foggy at the minute.

‘I know what it is, the rest of the coaches do – we’re part of a pathway to produce players for Gareth. I’m confident that I am doing what’s required or this job. 

‘If it’s about winning at Under-21 level and Gareth quite rightly takes your best players, the job is about producing players from 15 to 21 and up to the seniors.

‘I can’t do anything other than what I’m doing now, which is getting players through. These horrific experiences and learning from them, there’s nothing like getting beat in the last few minutes of a game when we were excellent.

Boothroyd claims he has done an good job in preparing England’s young stars for senior level

‘We played fantastic football, created chances, hit the crossbar twice tonight and got beat on a thunderbolt shot that if the kid tried to do it another hundred times, he wouldn’t be able to do it again.’

The Under-21s side has acted as the pathway of several senior England stars, with captain Harry Kane, Phil Foden, John Stones, Jesse Lingard and James Ward-Prowse acting as some of the players to make the step up from youth to senior level. 

But England were one of the favourites to win the European Championships and came into the tournament with several players playing for top-flight clubs. 

Boothroyd selected Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi, Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe, Everton defender Ben Godfrey and Liverpool’s Curtis Jones amongst a whole host of Premier League players. 

Boothroyd picked many Premier League stars in his young side including Callum Hudson-Odoi

England beat Croatia 2-1 on Wednesday but it was not enough to progress to the knockouts

But the Young Lions began the tournament terribly by losing their first two matches to Switzerland and Portugal, failing to register a shot on target in either of the matches. 

Before the Croatia match, Boothroyd claimed the England Under-21s job was the ‘impossible’ job in football but England nearly reached June’s knockout rounds of the European tournament on Wedesnday night.

Needing a victory of two goals or more to progress, England were minutes away from reaching the latter rounds after Ebere Eze scored a penalty and Curtis Jones added a second with 16 minutes remaining.

Phil Foden (right) is one of several Under-21s stars to step up to the first time in recent years

But Domagoj Bradaric’s injury-time stunner broke England’s hearts and put Croatia through on goal difference instead.

Boothroyd admitted that discussions about his future will take place and that the decision lies with England manager Gareth Southgate and FA technical director John McDermott.

The 50-year-old added: ‘Gareth and John will let a bit of time go to gather our thoughts. We’re due to do a review on senior team and under-21s. 

‘I can’t put a time on that but in a week or a couple of weeks, depending on what they have on.’ 

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