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Aidy Boothroyd’s tactical blunder as England Under-21s falter on Emile Smith Rowe’s debut


England got their European Under-21 Championship campaign underway with a 1-0 loss to Switzerland.

The Three Lions find themselves in a tough group with Croatia and Portugal, two teams with an abundance of talent.

It means that Aidy Boothroyd’s side really could have done with the three points.

With 15 minutes to go, it was the Swiss that went a goal up through a slice of good fortune.

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Dan Ndoye slipped as he shot but it helped the ball loop over Aaron Ramsdale, who had no chance of saving the bizarre attempt.

But while Switzerland’s goal was lucky, it was no less than what they deserved with England looking clueless going forward.

Switzerland beat England 1-0
Switzerland beat England 1-0

Expectations are high for Boothroyd’s team, who has a number of class players under his wing.

And one was thrown straight into the line-up in the form of Emile Smith Rowe, making his Under-21 debut.

The 20-year-old has been one of the standout performers under Mikel Arteta in recent weeks and was even mentioned as a potential player for the seniors.

But the playmaker could not replicate his club form at international level and was largely anonymous throughout the contest.

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With 30 minutes to go, Boothroyd cut short his game and replaced him with Crystal Palace ace Eberechi Eze.

Emile Smith Rowe made his England Under-21 debut on Thursday
Emile Smith Rowe made his England Under-21 debut on Thursday

Instead, England were more dependent on the talents of Callum Hudson-Odoi, who looked electric throughout the contest.

If anything was going to happen for England, it was through the Chelsea man.

Indeed, it was the forward to get the only shot on target for the Three Lions through a free-kick.

However, the supporting cast could not do their bit with Eddie Nketiah unable to hold the ball up as a lone striker.

The Arsenal forward has many qualities but playing up top on his own was always going to be a big ask against a strong Swiss defence.

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Aidy Boothroyd did not get his team selection right
Aidy Boothroyd did not get his team selection right

Boothroyd will rue playing the pairing of Oliver Skipp and Tom Davies over Liverpool sensation Curtis Jones, who did come in the second-half.

It meant England had seven defensive outfield players, relying on the individual talents of the forward three.

Mauro Lustrinelli’s side were organised, pressed brilliantly and were patient – and looked a side who knew how to win.

The same cannot be said for the Young Lions.

England are back in action this Sunday when they take on one of the tournament’s favourites in Portugal and anything less than a win could see qualification from the group all but over.





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