England Youngsters Looking to Extend Their Run in Provence

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Paul Simpson’s England Under 20 squad has been announced for the defence of the their Toulon Tournament crown. England will head to the South of France aiming to make it four titles in a row.

England have a rich history in the tournament having won the title on seven occasions, but in keeping with recent history an odd numbered year means a weakened squad will be going to Toulon. That’s because the pick of the under 20 litter, including Phil Foden, Ryan Sessegnon and Reiss Nelson will be part of Aidy Boothroyd’s Euro Under 21s squad, whilst Jadon Sancho is now with the senior side. However there is plenty of talent in Simpson’s squad.

In defence England will look to Chelsea duo Reece James and Trevor Chalobah both coming off successful loan spells in the Championship. In midfield Dwight McNeil has enjoyed a breakout season with Burnley and will be key anchoring the midfield. Arsenal’s Joe Willock has a strong record at Under 20 level but the key man will be his club mate Eddie Nketiah. The striker grabbed a brace in last year’s semi-final win over Scotland and will be leading the forward line.

The Threepeat

England are going for their fourth straight Toulon title, so here’s a quick recap of those earlier triumphs…

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2016 (Manager Gareth Southgate)

2016 isn’t a summer English football will remember with too much fondly. However on the eve of Euro 2016 under the stewardship of then Under 21s boss Gareth Southgate, England won the Toulon title for the first time since 1994. A side featuring future senior caps Jordan Pickford, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, James Ward-Prowse and Nat Chalobah rampaged through the group stage scoring 13 goals, with Jack Grealish scoring three times. In the semi-final a Lewis Baker penalty saw off Japan to set up a final with hosts France. Early goals from Baker and Loftus Cheek put England on course for a 2-1 win. Baker won the golden boot but it was Chelsea teammate Loftus-Cheek who was the tournament’s star turn

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2017 (Manager Neal Deswnip)

In a trophy laden season for England’s age group squads that saw them claim World Cup’s at Under 17 & 20 levels and the Under 19 European Championships, Neil Dewsnip’s side winning the Toulon was largely forgotten. England again cruised through the group with Sheffield Wednesday’s George Hirst grabbing a hat trick in a 7-1 hiding of Cuba. Leicester winger Harvey Barnes hit form with a semi final brace against Scotland to set up a final against Ivory Coast. A tense final saw England lead through David Brooks only to see a late equaliser send the game to penalties. In the shoot out a late miss from Jean Thierry Lazare put England on match point and Leeds’ midfielder Ronaldo Viera slotted away the winner. Hirst, who returns to Toulon this summer and Barnes tied for the golden boot but Brooks was player of the tournament, disappointingly for England he then switched allegiance to Wales.

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2018 (Manager Aidy Boothroyd)

England headed to France with a strong squad in 2018, however Aidy Boothroyd’s side didn’t have it all their own way. A late winner from Tammy Abraham spared England’s blushes in a 2-1 win over China. Next up England struggled to a draw with Mexico and despite a 4-0 thrashing of Qatar, England only went through as group runners up. In the semi-final England found themselves behind to Scotland but a brace from Eddie Nketiah ensured a 3-1 win in the Auld Enemy clash. In the final England again faced the impressive Mexicans and again found themselves behind early. But Middlesbrough’s Dael Fry brought England level and a fine winner from Kieran Dowell ensured a 2-1 triumph. Fry, Dowell, Freddie Woodman and Lewis Cook all added the Toulon title to their to their Under 20 World Cup winners medals.

And 2019…

This tournament although not recognised officially by FIFA has been an excellent proving ground for young talent and with both star studied and unheralded sides England have proved winners here. England will face group games against Japan, Chile and Portugal and potential knock out opponents include France, Brazil and Mexico. There will be higher profile tournaments this summer, but Toulon remains an essential part of the junior international calendar.

England Toulon Squad:

Goalkeepers

Ellery Balcombe (Brentford), Nathan Trott (West Ham United)

Defenders

Jayden Bogle (Derby County), Trevoh Chalobah (Chelsea), Reece James (Chelsea), Marc Guehi (Chelsea), Max Lowe (Derby County), Tom Pearce (Leeds United), Steven Sessegnon (Fulham), Easah Suliman (Aston Villa)

 

England begin vs Japan, 1st June 3pm.

 

 

 

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