Norwich City youngster Jacob Murphy facing anxious wait ahead of England U21s' semi-final clash with Germany
The fitness of Nathan Redmond looks set to dictate whether his former Norwich City team-mate Jacob Murphy will start against Germany for the England Under-21s this afternoon.
Murphy replaced Redmond at half-time of Thursday’s 3-0 victory over hosts Poland, scoring the vital second goal, to help the Youngs Lions reach the European U21 Championship semi-finals.
That has teed up a tough test against the Germans in Tychy today (5pm UK time) but former Canaries winger Redmond and Chelsea midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah face late fitness tests ahead of the clash.
The pair trained yesterday – although some of it was away from the group – and the Young Lions are hopeful they will be fit, with Chalobah nursing a groin problem and Southampton’s Redmond suffering a hamstring scare.
England U21s boss Aidy Boothroyd said: “Both players will have fitness tests and they have improved significantly since we took the precaution of bringing them off and Nathaniel played a part in the session towards the end.”
The last time England won the U21 Euros was 33 years ago, when a squad including Norwich defender Dave Watson beat Spain 3-0 on aggregate in a two-legged final. England have since reached only one final, losing 4-0 to Germany in 2009.
The Youngs Lions have been practising penalties but the Germans – coached by Stefan Kuntz, who scored in normal time and also netted a penalty in his country’s semi-final shoot-out win over England’s senior team at Euro 96 – have not ahead of their last four showdown.
It is the first time England have qualified from the group stages since the tournament in Sweden in 2009 but Boothroyd knows they still need to improve.
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The former Canaries academy coach said: “We want to make sure that we aren’t a team that are good at qualifying and getting out of groups. We want to be known as teams that win tournaments.
“The under-20s have done that and the under-17s came really close and that’s what we want to do. But we know we’ve got a very tough opponent and we have a great deal of respect for the German team and it will be a very difficult game for us as well. But I hope that we can execute the game plan. If we can we will have a good chance.”
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