England U21s head coach Aidy Boothroyd has named his latest 26-man squad for upcoming home matches against Romania and Ukraine at Molineux Stadium and Bramall Lane next week.
There are two new fresh faces in the set-up this time around and they come in the form of Fulham and England U19 star Ryan Sessegnon and Liverpool man currently on loan at Sunderland Ovie Ejaria.
Sessegnon, 17 and Ejaria, 20 have both impressed massively playing first-team football for their domestic clubs in recent times and it is the first time that either of them have got the U21 nod.
Meanwhile, the trio of Tammy Abraham, Harry Winks and Angus Gunn are all back with the youngsters after their most recent call-ups for the senior side, while there are also the usual suspects such as Premier league stars Ben Chillwell, Tom Davies and Demarai Gray.
The first of the double-header of matches, to be held at the home of Wolverhampton Wanderers will be the Cyrille Regis International, played in honour of the former England International who sadly passed away in January.
Regis made over 600 appearances in his playing career, a time spent mostly with West Bromwich Albion, Coventry City, Aston Villa and Wolves, representatives of those four clubs will each lay a wreath before the match and a minute’s applause will be held.
The pioneer was a remodel for many young children getting into the game during his era and was one of the first black players to represent the Three Lions, here is what Boothroyd had to say about getting the chance to remember Regis.
“My first memory of Cyrille was buying the ‘101 Great Goals’ video on Betamax and watching this brilliant, powerful player hand-off defenders before smashing the ball from 30-yards into the top corner.”
“He was a fantastic footballer and he broke the ground for a lot of other black players to come through and play in the English leagues. I met him and got to know him a little later on in life when I went into management and he was working in football and I always found him to be a real gentleman.”
An equality and inclusion consultant to the Football Association, Brendon Batson a former teammate of his at the Hawthorns Stadium, had this to add about the occasion.
“I’m delighted this game has been named in honour of Cyrille,”, proclaimed the ex-Baggies and Arsenal star.
“He was a great footballer, but an even greater guy. I spent a lot of time with him, our families grew up together and he was always great to be around. “We’ll all look back in time and realise how blessed we are to have known him. I will miss him. We will all miss him.”
Just three days later, the Young Lions are then in action at Sheffield United’s home of Bramall Lane, where they play host to Ukraine in a 2019 European U21 Championship Qualifier.
The two nations met the latest time that Boothroyd’s men took to the field last November and got the better of them on that occasion, leaving Ukraine with three points thanks to Dominic Solanke and a Pavlo Lukyanchuk own-goal.
This time around, the 2017 semi-finalists will be hoping to reaffirm their lead at the top of Qualifying Group Four, which currently stands at five points from nearest challengers the Netherlands.
Ahead of the two tests, Boothroyd is keen to keep his team’s run of four victories on the spin going, back on home soil, having the following to say to the FA in addition.
“It’s been a good start to our new EURO campaign, we’ve got 13 points from the five games, a five-point lead at the top of our group and after analysing all of those games from different areas, we still think we could be better, so that’s a real positive.
“We’ll now be working hard to make sure we keep improving on our games so far and we’ve got two matches this month against Romania and Ukraine to try and do that.”
You can catch live coverage of the friendly visit of the Romanians to Molineux Stadium right here on byfarthegreatesteam.com next Saturday as we bring you a live and exclusive Live Blog of the International.
Full England U21s squad to face Romania and Ukraine:
Angus Gunn – Norwich City (loan from Manchester City)
Dean Henderson – Shrewsbury Town (loan from Manchester United)
Freddie Woodman – Aberdeen (loan from Newcastle United)
Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
Ben Chilwell – Leicester City
Jake Clarke-Salter – Sunderland (loan from Chelsea)
Dael Fry – Middlesbrough
Mason Holgate – Everton
Jonjoe Kenny – Everton
Ryan Sessegnon – Fulham
Fikayo Tomori – Hull City (loan from Chelsea)
Kyle Walker-Peters – Tottenham Hotspur
Joe Worrall – Nottingham Forest
Tom Davies – Everton
Kieran Dowell – Nottingham Forest (loan from Everton)
Ovie Ejaria – Sunderland (loan from Liverpool)
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – Arsenal
Josh Onomah – Aston Villa (loan from Tottenham Hotspur)
Harry Winks – Tottenham Hotspur
Tammy Abraham – Swansea City (loan from Chelsea)
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – Everton
Demarai Gray – Leicester City
Jack Harrison – Middlesbrough (loan from Manchester City)
Ademola Lookman – RB Leipzig (loan from Everton)
James Maddison – Norwich City
Dominic Solanke – Liverpool.