Uncapped Arsenal, Newcastle, Swansea and Leicester youngsters called up to England Under-21s squad

18 Mar

Gareth Southgate has included three new players in his squad ahead of England Under-21s’ European Championship qualifier in Switzerland, with one of the trio learning about his call-up when it was posted on Twitter.


Arsenal’s Isaac Hayden, on loan at Hull, Newcastle winger Rolando Aarons, and Blackburn midfielder Matt Grimes, on loan from Swansea, have all been included for next week’s game in Thun.

And Grimes revealed that he learned of his place in Southgate’s squad by browsing social media after training at Rovers on Thursday.

“I found out on Twitter about half an hour ago,” he said. “I didn’t know anything prior.

“I saw the under-20s was announced yesterday and I wasn’t in that but I didn’t really think anything of it, and then I found out today.

“I knew it was announced today and so I just had a little look after we’d done our session and saw I’d been called up, so it was happy days!”

Grimes has experience which belies his age, having broken through at League Two Exeter three years ago, and he believes that grounding in the lower leagues, coupled with a run in Blackburn’s first team, has prompted Southgate to turn his way.

“I spoke to him at the very start of the season about playing games and where I was getting my games from because I wasn’t quite getting a run of games at Swansea,” he added.

“Games as a youngster are massive. I don’t think the under-21s league is as good as first-team games, playing on Saturday, three o’clock for three points. I think it’s held me in good stead really.”

Leicester’s uncapped duo Demarai Gray and Ben Chilwell are also included, with both having been called up before, along with Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse.

Duncan Watmore, Nathaniel Chalobah and Nathan Redmond are all out injured for Southgate, who said: “This has been a different challenge. Over the last 18 months we have had a really settled squad.

“The first four camps of this campaign we have had a lot of new players to integrate, quite a few players who have stepped up to the first team and unfortunately we have lost quite a few players to injury.

“It’s an opportunity for new players but also quite a lot of work for us to do to get the harmony within the group.”

England are top of Group 9, three points clear of Norway and Switzerland, and beat the Swiss 3-1 at Brighton in November.

England Under-21 squad: Pickford (Sunderland), Walton (Brighton), Wildsmith (Sheffield Wednesday); Chambers (Arsenal), Chilwell (Leicester), Galloway (Everton), Hause (Wolves), Iorfa (Wolves), Stephens (Coventry; on loan from Southampton), Targett (Southampton); Baker (Vitesse Arnhem; on loan from Chelsea), Grimes (Blackburn; on loan from Swansea), Hayden (Hull; on loan from Arsenal), Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), Swift (Brentford; on loan from Chelsea), Ward-Prowse (Southampton); Aarons (Newcastle), Akpom (Hull; on loan from Arsenal), Gray (Leicester), Ibe (Liverpool), Solanke (Vitesse Arnhem; on loan from Chelsea), Wilson (Brighton; on loan from Manchester United).

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