CONFIRMED: England U21 call-ups for three Canaries starlets ahead of European qualifiers
- Credit: Football Association
It’s a day of celebration for staff at Norwich City’s academy, after Canaries stars Todd Cantwell, Ben Godfrey and Max Aarons were all called up to the England Under-21 squad for the first time.
The City trio have been named in Aidy Boothroyd's squad ahead of European Under-21 Championship qualifiers against Turkey and Kosovo, during the international break which follows Saturday's Premier League game at West Ham.
The youngsters have all been capped at lower age groups but after they started all three of the Canaries' opening top-flight games, after important roles in last season's Championship title success, they have moved up to U21 contention.
Norfolk-born midfielder Cantwell has been on the books at City since he was 10 years old and was capped four times at U17 level previously but a goal and two assists from three Premier League games has launched him back into the England set-up.
Speaking to City's official website, the Dereham-raised youngster said: "It's an amazing feeling to be called up to the under-21s for the upcoming games. It's a bit surreal to be honest to think that I am playing at this level with Max and Ben as well.
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"I'm enjoying my football and am believing in my ability and I just want to try and repay Daniel (Farke) in my performances for the faith he has shown in me."
Determined centre-back Godfrey was signed from York City on his 18th birthday in a deal worth £1m and completed his development with the U23s at Norwich, including a season on loan in League One with Shrewsbury, and has two U20 caps to his name.
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Godfrey said: "It's a massive honour to be called up to the under-21s squad. I couldn't wait to tell my family and friends!
"I've worked hard to get here, and I'm looking forward to meeting up with the lads. I'm also extremely happy for my team-mates: Max and Todd. It's well-deserved for both of them and it will be great to represent the country together."
Speedy right-back Aarons joined Norwich as a 16-year-old after previously being at Luton Town. Despite only making his professional debut just over a year ago the 19-year-old has won seven U19 caps already and won the EFL Young Player of the Season award for 2018-19.
He said: "I was delighted to hear the news as it's my first under-21s call-up and at 19 years old, I'm still eligible for the under-20s so it's massive for me to be selected in the squad.
"My family are really proud of me and obviously the under-21s is the next step to reaching the senior squad which is my ultimate goal but I'm very thankful to be selected in the team."
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All three players signed new long-term contracts with the Canaries this summer following promotion, with Godfrey and Aarons regularly linked with big money moves to bigger clubs in national newspapers.
Cantwell was asked about the potential for an under-21 call-up on Saturday, after scoring his first Premier League goal during a hard fought 3-2 home loss to Chelsea, and didn't appear to be expecting a call.
He said: "I'm 98 born so I think I probably qualify for it. But I'm trying not to concentrate on too much outside of this football club and I've just got to look forward to the next game really."
Both Cantwell and February fall just the right side of the cut off of being born on or before January 1, 1998, for the 2021 U21 Euros - being held in Hungary and Slovenia - but Godfrey only just, as he was born on January 15.
City have had two players in England U21 squads on previous occasions, James Maddison and Angus Gunn being a recent example, while Darren Eadie and Andy Marshall played together for the Young Lions in the 1990s.
Dave Watson and Chris Woods played for the U21s at Carrow Road in a 4-1 win over Denmark in 1983 but it's believed to be the first time that three Norwich players have been called up to a Young Lions squad.
The U21s take on Turkey at the Recep Tayyip Erdogan Stadium in Istanbul, where Kas?mpasa play, on Friday, September 6 (3pm UK time) and then host Kosovo at Hull City's KCOM Stadium on Monday, September 9 (6.45pm).
U21s boss Boothroyd said: "I'm really excited by this new group of players and when I look at the squad we have put together, it's very encouraging to see that so many of them have been playing regular football in the Premier League already this season.
"The likes of Reece James and Lloyd Kelly have been unfortunate to pick up injuries, as it's likely that they would also have been in the squad too.
"The more English players that we see playing regularly in the Premier League, the better, so all of the England coaches are really pleased about that.
"It's always an interesting, and busy, camp when we come together for the first time ahead of a new campaign.
"There's no doubt it's a tough start to the campaign for us, facing the top two, but we had the same last time round and it worked out. We've watched a lot of them, they're quite similar in how they play and we're expecting real threats from set pieces and from counter-attacks. It won't be easy but if we can go into the October fixtures with a good amount of points on the board then we'll be pleased.
"Of course our biggest priority is player development and getting them ready for the senior side. It's been particularly pleasing to see three of the players that were with at the Euros this summer be called up into Gareth Southgate's squad and we'll work with every individual in this group to give them the chance of doing the same."
ENGLAND U21 SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Ellery Balcombe (Brentford), Aaron Ramsdale (AFC Bournemouth), Nathan Trott (AFC Wimbledon, loan from West Ham United)
Defenders: Max Aarons (Norwich City), Trevoh Chalobah (Huddersfield Town, loan from Chelsea), Ben Godfrey (Norwich City), Marc Guehi (Chelsea), James Justin (Leicester City), Jonathan Panzo (AS Monaco), Steven Sessegnon (Fulham), Ben Wilmot (Swansea City, loan from Watford)
Midfielders: Todd Cantwell (Norwich City), Tom Davies (Everton), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Morgan Gibbs-White (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Dwight McNeil (Burnley), Omar Richards (Reading), Oliver Skipp (Tottenham Hotspur), Joe Willock (Arsenal)
Forwards: Rhian Brewster (Liverpool), Mason Greenwood (Manchester United), Reiss Nelson (Arsenal), Eddie Nketiah (Leeds United, loan from Arsenal)