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England U21s ‘can still improve’ at Euros

PUBLISHED: 09:00 23 June 2017

England under-21 pose for a team photo before their clash with Poland at the UEFA European Under-21 Championships (pic Nick Potts/PA)

England under-21 pose for a team photo before their clash with Poland at the UEFA European Under-21 Championships (pic Nick Potts/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

England 3 Poland 0

England Under-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd has warned their Euro 2017 rivals that his Young Lions can still get better.

They reached the semi-finals for the first time since 2009 after easing past hosts Poland 3-0 in Kielce to top Group A.

Lewis Baker’s late penalty added to goals from Demarai Gray and Jacob Murphy, with Poland finishing the game with 10 men after Jan Bednarek was dismissed for conceding the spot-kick.

England drew 0-0 with Sweden in their opening game, with Jordan Pickford saving a late penalty, and had to come from behind to beat Slovakia 2-1 on Monday.

Arsenal’s Calum Chambers played the full 90 minutes for the third match in a row, but clubmate Rob Holding was an unused substitute and is still to appear in the tournament.

Boothroyd’s men will not find out their last four opponents until the conclusion of the group stage on Saturday - but could face Germany - although the manager is pleased with their growing momentum.

He said: “We seem to be growing in confidence, which is good. We don’t want to peak too early.

“I didn’t plan Sweden 0 England 0, but when you look at it now it looks like a really good point and a really good save from Jordan.

“But that is what it is about in tournaments. It’s about getting momentum, keeping confidence and obviously keeping everyone fit. Hopefully we can continue to improve. But it was an outstanding performance.

“We have gone from being one of the best 12 to one of the best four, whoever they are. The plan is to get to be one of the best two and then, hopefully, the best one.

“I wouldn’t be arrogant enough to say that we are one of the favourites. I don’t think we are. But I think we are getting better and better. When you have a team like that, one that has got momentum and keeps clean sheets, you’ve got half a chance.”

Leicester winger Gray believes England can win the competition after he scored on his first tournament start.

“Why not?” he told told Sky Sports 1.

“Everyone knows what depth we’ve got in the team and as a team we’ve shown what we are capable of tonight so if we can put that performance into the semi-finals no matter who we get we will cause teams problems.

“We’ve got to go out there with confidence and do what we do best.”

England will also check on injuries to Nathaniel Chalobah and Nathan Redmond after the pair suffered first-half injuries.

Boothroyd added: “They both just felt tweaks and it was a decision I had to make, whether I kept them on or changed it around.”

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