In a one-off Cyrille Regis International fixture, Aidy Boothroyd’s England U21s play host to Daniel Isaila’s Romania U21s on an evening that will be dedicated to former Three Lions star and footballing icon Regis, who sadly passed away at the age of 59.
The home nation head into the fixture off the back of European U21 Championship qualifying victory over Ukraine in November 2017, while the visiting nation were also last in competitive action that month, on British soil too drawing with Wales, the hosts are the firm favourites for this one.
The intriguing friendly will be played out this evening (Saturday 14 March 2018), with a kick-off time of 5:15 PM GMT and live television coverage in the United Kingdom being provided by BT Sport on BT Sport 2.
There will be no live radio commentary being broadcasted by any UK-based outlets, but if you don’t have access to a TV later today, never fear, you can stay right here on ByFarTheGreatestTeam for a Live Blog, featuring live and exclusive build-up, text commentary and reaction from the Molineux Press Box starting at around 3:15 PM.
The visit of the Romanians will be held at the Young Lions’ occasional home stadium of Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton, England, it is the domestic home of Sky Bet Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The historic ground was opened in 1889 and following a series of redevelopments over the course of the last 30 years, now has a capacity of just under 32,000.
The senior England team have also turned out at Molineux over the years and it has, in addition, proved itself a world-class concert venue too, the record attendance for football, however, was set in 1939 as a staggering 61,315.
This evening will be the first time that the Little Tricolours have journeyed to the Midlands stadium, the home side have only played there on three previous occasions, in 1996, 2008 and 2014 respectively, this will be the first time under Boothroyd.
Home boss Boothroyd decided to call upon two fresh faces for his latest squad with exciting defender Ryan Sessegnon progressing through the ranks up to the U21s and Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria getting his first nod too.
Late on Friday night, there was another edition in young Wolves shot-stopper Harry Burgoyne being drafted in on a precautionary basis given that Angus Gunn and Freddie Woodman are both nursing knocks, Everton man Mason Holgate and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Harry Winks were both forced to pull out with ankle injuries.
Meanwhile, away manager Isaila has decided to go for local knowledge in his squad for the encounter with two England-based players, Leicester City’s Alexandru Pascanu and Rochdale’s Mihai Dobre.
While his team are the underdogs, they undoubtedly still have some dangerous young players in their ranks, you only have to look at the likes of Dinamo Bucuresti’s Vlad Olteanu and strikers Adrian Petre and Andrei Ivan for evidence of that.
Meetings between the U21 outfits of England and Romania have been rare commodities in recent times with only one clash between the two being played since they met at the 2010 European U21 Championship.
The encounter cane at Adams Park in 2013 when the Young Lions triumphed comfortably, on the scoresheet that day were young Wilfried Zaha, Jack Robinson and Nathan Delfouneso and the score was 3-0.
In terms of the two nation’s recent form, Boothroyd’s men very much have the edge, avoiding defeat in their last five competitive matches and winning four of them, the only team they have failed to beat so far in their U21 EURO 2019 qualifying campaign is Holland back in September.
Whereas, Isaila’s boys haven’t fared so well over the previous five occasions that they have taken to the field, while, like England, they are unbeaten, they’ve drawn three of their last five, only triumphing twice, victories over Switzerland and leaders of their group Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The England U21 national team was formed in 1976 and ironically, played its first International against Welsh at a certain stadium in the Midlands, Molineux, drawing 0-0.
Since then they have tasted competitive glory twice, lifting the European U21 Championship twice in 1982 and 1984, and finishing runners-up in 2009, at the last tournament, they were respectfully third.
Notable products of the English youth system to appear from the team include such names as Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard and more recently Harry Kane, while famous manager of the like of Stuart Pearce, Graham Taylor and current senior boss Gareth Southgate have come and gone.
Nowadays, under former Premier League gaffer with Watford Boothroyd, they top their qualification group for the U21 EUROs and have not been defeated yet in this qualifying campaign, they are expected to qualify and head into Italy and San Marino as one of the favourites.
The U21 bracket of the Romanian national team was similarly formed in 1978 and have not been quite as successful as their Saturday opponents on the International stage since then.
The nation have only qualified for their version of the EUROs on one occasion, this came as hosts in 1998 when they fell at the first hurdle, the quarter-finals stage.
Notable past managers include the likes of Ilie Dumitrescu, Emil Sandoi, who enjoyed two separate spells at the helm and Nicolae Manea, the second longest serving of the managers, in terms of players, current senior stars Nicolae Stanciu, Costel Pantilimon and Constantin Budescu all played at U21 level, among others.
Presently, under the guidance of ex-Astra Giurgiu manager Isaila, the Romanians have a strong chance of qualifying for the Italy and San Marino tournament next year as they sit second in their group to Bosnia.
So, now that the Molineux Stadium scene has been well and truly set for an exciting evening of youth International football in the Midlands, will the Young Lions be able to live up to their favourites billing to continue their red-hot form?
Or, can the Little Tricolours roll into Wolverhampton and cause a shock to start their year with a confidence booster? Think you know? Be sure to find us on Twitter @ByFarBlog to cast your late score predictions ahead of this evening and join the pre-match discussion.