Canaries star called up to England U21 squad

Kosovo's Arbenit Xhemajli (left) and England's Todd Cantwell battle for the ball during the 2019 UEF

Norwich City midfielder Todd Cantwell in action for the England Under-21s previously - Credit: PA

Todd Cantwell has been called up to the England Under-21 squad, joining Norwich City team-mates Max Aarons and Oliver Skipp for the European U21 Championship group stages.

Canaries supporters were surprised that the attacking midfielder's influential form for the Championship's dominant leaders, after scoring six Premier League goals last season, hadn't earned him a Young Lions recall.

The Dereham-raised ace is 23 years old but having earned three caps during qualifying he remains eligible for the U21 Euros so has been called into the squad by Aidy Boothroyd as an injury replacement for Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood.

The Young Lions face Switzerland on Thursday (2pm), Portugal on Sunday (8pm) and Croatia next Wednesday (5pm), with all of their games in Slovenia with the hope of qualifying for the knockout stages which begin in late May.

Cantwell has five goals and four assists to his name from 25 appearances for City so far this season, with Boothroyd admitting it had been "a very difficult decision" to leave the Norwich star out of his initial squad.

While it's good news for the player his inclusion potentially adds to Daniel Farke's concerns, with Cantwell making it eight players who could be in international action less than 48 hours before City's game at Preston on Good Friday.

Young Lions boss Boothroyd said last week of Cantwell's initial omission: "When you look at the squad, it's a tough call. I found that one in particular a very difficult decision to make.

"Mainly because of the form, after Christmas the upturn in terms of his minutes, numbers and Norwich's position - they are playing very well - it made it a difficult decision. They are coming towards the end of a very long season up at the top of the league. 

"Todd has been with us before. He's been excellent when he was with us. I know how important it is for him to play for his country.

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"Football is about tough knocks and setbacks. Life is about that and you've got to get on with it and get back where you want to be.

"He's certainly doing that and is unlucky not to be in the squad."

MORE: Skipp ready to dig deep for City and England U21s

The Canaries academy product earned four U17 caps as a youngster but didn't return to the England set-up until September 2019, after City's promotion to the top flight, playing the final half-hour of a 2-0 win over Kosovo U21s in Hull.

His other two U21 caps were at the start of this season, playing the opening 63 minutes of a 6-0 win in Kosovo, alongside Arsenal attackers Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka. He also came on for the final 12 minutes of a 2-1 win in Austria as England closed on qualification.

But a hamstring injury forced him to drop out of the squad in October, with Aarons and Skipp both starting the 2-1 win over Turkey at Molineux which sealed a place in the group stages.

Click here for the full schedule of City players potentially in international action

 

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