Football Features

Six England Under-21 players you *might* not know about yet

By Chris Smith

Published: 12:39, 1 June 2019

The Uefa Nations League may steal much of the limelight in June but England’s U-21 side also face a big summer. 

Aidy Boothroyd takes his young Lions to Italy for the 2019 Uefa European U-21 Championships with England in search of yet more glory at youth level.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is one of the star names in the squad, along with the likes of Tammy Abraham and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but there are also plenty of players with little Premier League experience which you might not know quite as much about yet.

At Squawka, we’ve given you the lowdown.

Dean Henderson

Club: Manchester United

Dean Henderson has had a wonderful season on loan from Manchester United with Sheffield United in the Championship, keeping a league-high 21 clean sheets as the Blades sealed promotion to the Premier League.

With the futures of David de Gea and Sergio Romero anything but certain, Man Utd may well have a goalkeeping crisis on their hands by the end of the summer and there is a sizeable portion of the club’s fanbase now calling for Henderson to be given his chance.

The 22-year-old is yet to take to the pitch with the Red Devils but does have eight caps for England at U-21 level, as well as a Fifa U-20 World Cup winners medal.

According to reports, United are set to offer Henderson a new deal before linking him back up with Chris Wilder’s side to give him some valuable Premier League experience.

Freddie Woodman

Club: Newcastle United

Freddie Woodman already has Uefa European U-17 Championship, Toulon Tournament and Fifa U-20 World Cup winners medals to his name for the Young Lions, even winning the Golden Glove at the latter.

At club level, so far, he’s been farmed out on loan by Newcastle United, heading to destinations such as Aberdeen, Crawley Town, Kilmarnock and Hartlepool United.

The impressive Martin Dubravka rules the roost in goal at St James Park, however, and at 22-years-old, Woodman is going to be in search of regular first-team football very soon.

Lloyd Kelly

Club: Bournemouth

After a real breakthrough season in the Championship with Bristol City, Lloyd Kelly will be playing his trade in the Premier League next season with Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth.

The Cherries sealed Kelly’s arrival with a reported £13m fee, even beating off interest from Liverpool and Arsenal, and is set for some all-important Premier League experience next term.

“Lloyd is an exciting talent and a player of real potential, while at the same time already possessing good experience for someone so young,” Howe said upon Kelly’s arrival.

“He is athletic, versatile, physically excellent and has a very bright future ahead of him. I’m delighted that we have been able to strike so early in the summer and look forward to working with Lloyd during the coming seasons.”

Kelly is likely to be England’s starting left-back in Italy this summer, although he is also capable of slotting into central defence.

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Jonjoe Kenny

Club: Everton

Trying to supplant Seamus Coleman from the right-back spot at Everton is always going to be a tall order but Jonjoe Kenny has at least filled in brilliantly as deputy for the Irishman.

To date, Kenny has made 40 first team appearances for the Toffees – a large amount of which came during Coleman’s spell on the sidelines with a broken leg last year –while he also captained the youth side which won the Premier League 2 title in 2016/17.

Across the various youth international levels, Kenny has amassed an incredible 54 caps, winning the 2014 Uefa European U-17 Championship – where he made the Team of the Tournament – and the 2017 Fifa U-20 World Cup.

According to reports, Burnley and Crystal Palace are set to go head-to-head over a move for Kenny this summer.

Ezri Konsa

Club: Brentford

Standing at 1.83m tall, Ezri Konsa isn’t the tallest of defenders but he’s certainly solid. The former Charlton Athletic man blocked more shots (20) than any other Brentford player in the Championship last season, while he also showed his composure on the ball with 1745 accurate short passes – the second-highest among Brentford players.

Konsa was part of the 2017 Fifa U-20 World Cup winning squad and a big summer in Italy could see some serious hype generated for this athletic, cultured defender who played 47 games for the Bees last term.

Kieran Dowell

Club: Everton

Kieran Dowell has been in the Everton academy system since he was just seven years old and made his debut against FC Krasnodar in the 2014/15 Europa League. Since then, though, he has only notched up a further four first-team appearances for the Toffees.

However, he did score 10 goals in 43 games on loan at Nottingham Forest last season while this term, he scored two goals in 16 games after making a temporary switch to Sheffield United in January, sealing promotion alongside Henderson.

Along with Kenny, Calvert-Lewin, Tom Davies and Ademola Lookman, Dowell is one of a number of Everton youngsters to have played a key role in England’s success at development level in recent years and while Sheffield United reportedly want to re-sign the 21-year-old ahead of their Premier League return, they could face competition from Huddersfield Town.