England U21s began their European Championship campaign last night with a 2-1 defeat against France. Among their squad are a number of players who featured in the EFL last season.
Dean Henderson, the Manchester United keeper who starred for Sheffield United in the 2018/19 Championship put in a strong performance for the Young Lions, saving a penalty. Henderson was a great asset for the Blades in their promotion last year, and undoubtedly has a Premier League future ahead of him.
Defenders Fikayo Tomori and Jay DaSilva are both contracted by Chelsea, however spent the 2018/19 season on-loan to Championship clubs Derby County and Bristol City respectively. Tomori made 47 appearances for the Rams and picked up their Player of the Season award. He will look to replicate those mature performances in defence for the Young Lions, and he will be a key player if Aidy Boothroyd’s side are to be successful in the Championships. Similarly, Jay DaSilva became an instant fans favourite at Ashton Gate and was one of the Robins’ most consistent performers. While only 5ft7in, DaSilva makes up in ball-control, technique, and skill, what he lacks in height. City are looking to re-sign the left-back but if he performs for the U21s there will be a number of other Championship and Premier League clubs after his signature.
Another Chelsea loanee, Mason Mount, was instrumental in Derby’s play-off push in 2018/19. The playmaker scored nine goals and made four assists, and helped the Rams to the Wembley final. Under Frank Lampard’s leadership, Mount made a name for himself in the Championship last season, and can consolidate and enhance his reputation with the Young Lions at the European Championships this summer.
Defenders Lloyd Kelly and Ezri Konsa didn’t feature last night for the U21s, however are part of the squad, and both had successful seasons in the Championship last year for Bristol City and Brentford respectively. Indeed, Kelly’s performances earned him a transfer to AFC Bournemouth for £13million, while Konsa has also been subject to Premier League interest.
Finally, Tammy Abraham played a key role in Aston Villa’s Play-Off success. The Chelsea loanee was the Championship’s second top scorer with 26 goals. Prior to his EFL loan move, Abraham spent time in the Premier League with Swansea, however he struggled for form, and therefore there are a number of doubters of his ability. It will be crucial for the young striker to perform well for the U21s to prove his worth.
The Young Lions continue their campaign against Romania on Friday.