Norwich City ace Jacob Murphy is pushing for a leading role in England U21s glory bid
Jacob Murphy is giving Aidy Boothroyd a selection poser ahead of England Under-21s European Championship semi-final next week.
Murphy scored in the group-clinching 3-0 win over hosts Poland on Thursday in a second decisive cameo from the bench for the Young Lions. The 22-year-old also set up Alfie Mawson for a vital goal against Slovakia earlier in the week to press his claims for a leading role.
Murphy replaced the injured Nathan Redmond at the break against Poland and Boothroyd has been delighted with the impact of the Norwich City starlet.
The Canaries’ flyer could now be in line for a start next week, if Redmond fails to recover from a knock in the first half against the Poles. Nathaniel Chalobah was also taken off as a precaution but Boothroyd remains upbeat after guiding England to the last four for the first time since 2009 at this level.
“That’s why we carry a squad, I thought Will Hughes came on and did well, we know what Tammy (Abraham) can do and young Murphy did really well too,” he said. “Hopefully we can get all of our players back fit, that’s the main thing because it’s been great for me having 23 players to pick from. They both just felt tweaks and it was a difficult decision I had to make, whether I kept them on or changed it around because they are key players for us. But at this stage, we want to keep everybody fit for the semi-final. Thankfully the lads who came on did really, really well.
“The lads up front were excellent, buzzing around the back four. We were under the cosh a bit, but the speed at which we broke was phenomenal (for Jacob’s goal) as they missed a chance in our box and within five seconds we were scoring. We’re gaining momentum, keeping composure and keeping clean sheets, so it’s a good place for us at the minute.”
Murphy’s crew is looking to emulate the success of England’s other age-group sides this summer, capped by the Under-20s World Cup win in South Korea.
“It is all part of a long-term plan,” said Boothroyd. “The building of St George’s Park, and the players themselves, in terms of personnel in important positions. There has been some investment into it and I think it is starting to bear fruit. We have got good players at all age groups.”