England Under-21 coach Gareth Southgate sprang few surprises with his provisional squad announcement for the upcoming European Championships, with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw swerved as a ‘reward’ to the Young Lions who secured qualification.
Potential Premier League superstars such as Danny Ings, Harry Kane, John Stones and Saido Berahino all make the plane to Czech Republic, but there are plenty of unheralded, up-and-coming types among the 27, with five to watch out for listed below:
After this young Essex boy’s fantastic term with Championship Brentford, where he scored 12 goals in 45 league games as the Bees made it into the playoffs, some Tottenham fan sites have suggested Pritchard could make an appearance in Mauricio Pochettino’s side’s last game of the campaign against Everton.
The 22-year-old bagged Brentford’s Player of the Season award and made the Championship’s PFA Team of the Year, but has only turned out once for his parent club, coming off the bench late on in the final game of last season against Aston Villa.
A veteran of almost 100 senior appearances already, having also been on loan at Swindon and Peterborough, Pritchard will be hopeful of making the same leap into Spurs’ midfield as Ryan Mason did earlier this season, after taking a strikingly similar tour of the lower leagues.
This south London-born stopper has been linked with the soon-to-be-vacant number two goalie spot at Chelsea, after establishing himself as top dog during his first season in Fulham’s senior squad.
Prior to making 31 Championship appearances for the Whites this term, Bettinelli spent time on loan at Conference Premier side Dartford and League Two outfit Accrington Stanley, which suggests the 22-year-old is improving at a rapid rate.
He’ll need luck to make an impact at the tournament, having only made his debut in a 1-0 win against Czech Republic eight weeks ago – number one Jack Butland has 26 more England Under-21 caps, despite being just two months older.
Brighton’s 21-year-old central-midfielder has plenty of pedigree in his background; dad Darren Caskey turned out over 200 times for Reading between 1996-2001, having been a youngster at Spurs, while stepdad Nicky Forster is best known for his six-year spell with the Royals between 1999-2005.
In this case, it seems football runs in the blood, as Forster-Caskey has more in common with the former, also a midfielder, than the latter, who played up front.
After making 14 appearances for England’s Under-21s, the Seagulls regular has already outstripped the international achievements of both father figures.
Another with family connections in football, Gibson – whose uncle Steve owns Middlesbrough – has had to be patient at his hometown club since making his senior debut over four years ago.
Spells on loan at Plymouth, York and Tranmere followed, but the 22-year-old has been practically ever present in Boro’s defence since Aitor Karanka took charge at the Riverside just over 18 months ago, and is a shoo-in to start their Championship playoff final against Norwich.
Afobe couldn’t wait around for a chance at Arsenal any longer after six temporary spells away from the Emirates, prior to signing on at Wolves for a reported £2m fee in January.
The 22-year-old has bagged 13 goals in 21 appearances for his new club since, and notched 31 times in 51 games for the season when a 30-match loan stint with League One MK Dons is included, so he’ll be hopeful of adding to two Under-21 caps so far, despite competition from top-flight regulars Kane, Ings and Berahino.