We have to bounce back – Aidy Boothroyd lays down challenge to England Under-21s

Nick Mashiter, PA
·2-min read

Boss Aidy Boothroyd has called on his England Under-21 side to harness the spirit of 1966 to keep their Euro 2021 dreams alive.

The Young Lions face Portugal in their must-win Group D game in Ljubljana on Sunday.

Thursday’s lacklustre opening 1-0 defeat to Switzerland put them under immediate pressure in Slovenia.

Yet England won the World Cup in 1966 after drawing their opening game with Uruguay 0-0, while Boothroyd’s Young Lions reached the Euro 2017 semi-finals after drawing with Sweden, events the manager has reminded his squad about.

He said: “I have mentioned it. In our debrief the day after the game that was put up.

“Bad stuff does happen. We deal with it. The players are aware, the lads are aware of what we can do.

“Yeah, I mentioned 1966. I mentioned us in 2017. The Swiss were more ready than we were and it’s time to start kicking on.

“When you fly through qualifying, when it comes to the real stuff, the big stuff, we know we’ll be tested. This is exactly what we want.

“We want stress. We want to look back and say, ‘Remember when we lost the first one but won the next two?’

“A few things need to change from the other night. Scoring goals, making goals. You’ve got to dig in, get blocks in.

“The players are well aware of that. We had a good, honest conversation. Nobody is in any doubt. We have to bounce back.”

PSV Eindhoven attacker Noni Madueke will make his debut, having impressed in Holland this season, scoring eight goals in 26 games.

The 19-year-old was an unused substitute on Thursday in Koper, where goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale said the players were nervous.

But Madueke believes the squad need to support each other ahead of the high-stakes game.

He said: “Everyone’s different in how they go into games. Some people get really nervous, some don’t feel pressure at all.

“It’s just about us sticking together, making sure we have each other’s backs and we know that. Maybe we were a little bit cautious in the first game, but in terms of the boys being nervous I don’t know.”