England View: On The Future Of The Under 21s

Last updated : 01 April 2021 By Three Lions

The Three Lions Under 21 team will not be contesting the knockout stages of the European Championships this summer, a final game group stage victory against Croatia not enough to keep Aidy Boothroyd's side in a tournament split into two parts due to the unique nature of this season's football schedule.

As he approaches the end of his contract, and with England having suffered a similar fate in previous editions of the competition, Boothroyd is being tipped to leave his post and speculation has started as to who will replace him.

Names from both within and outside of the FA have been mentioned in early despatches but what does the future hold for the Under 21 team itself?

Once a very distinct entity to the senior team, the reforms to the England set-up in recent years have resulted in a much closer relationship between the two and an almost interchangeable pathway between the squads chosen by Boothroyd and Gareth Southgate.

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That is to the huge credit of everyone involved in the overhaul of the national team but with age being no barrier to Southgate's side it almost makes the U21s less important as a finishing school for the stars of the future.

Lower down the age pyramid and there are World Cups to be played for, tournaments that may be more of a dry run for being involved in a major senior tournament.

England's U17s, for instance, will have forged a close bond when winning in India in 2017 while the management team will also have gleaned plenty of detail as to who thrived in different conditions at a time when most of the players would not have been first-team regulars at their clubs.

For all that it is a disappointment the U21s are out of the Euros, many of those involved have had lots of Premier League playing time this season and the benefits of being involved in the tournament in terms of their progression to the senior England side may have been limited.