England’s Under 21s have made the first step towards banishing memories of their winless European Under 21 Championship capitulation in Israel this summer with a dominant 6-0 victory over Billy Stark’s young Scots. Senior boss Roy Hodgson – in charge for the night before Stuart Pearce’s replacement is appointed – declared that some of those taking part “would not be out of place with the senior team” – here’s who we thought he meant.
Jonjo Shelvey – Swansea City
It’s easy to forget that Shelvey is still just 21 years old and the maturity that has seen the recent Swansea City – 91/100 to beat Manchester United with the benefit of a one goal head-start – signing clock-up 125 games in his career already set him apart at Bramall Lane.
The way in which he was a conduit for much of England’s attacking play – spraying inviting passes out to the wings at will – bodes well for his chances of minutes under Michael Laudrup in the season ahead and his 30-yard screamer for the fifth goal was the icing on the cake.
Nathan Redmond – Norwich City
Redmond’s performances for the Under 21s at the European Championships – in what were his first games at this level – were one of the few positives from that disappointing campaign. He shone again here, notching the opener and creating two goals for his teammates in a performance showing great awareness as well some incisive running.
It was the latest impressive showing in a positive pre-season from the Norwich City man, who may have done enough to earn a debut for his new employers in their seasonal bow against Everton – the Canaries are 21/10 to start their season off with a victory at Carrow Road.
John Stones – Everton
Stones was signed from Barnsley by David Moyes last season and although he failed to make an appearance for the Toffees – 16/1 for a top four Premier League finish in 2013/14 – last term, he’ll surely get a chance based on a deeply assured showing at right-back, in what was his first outing for Under 21s.
That he was solid was perhaps unsurprising given he’d defended with aplomb against Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente in a pre-season tournament game against Juventus, even showing great composure to score the winning – ‘Panenka’ style – penalty in the shoot-out that followed the clubs’ 1-1 draw.