Boothroyd challenges England Under-21s to live up to favourites tag

Boothroyd challenges England Under-21s to live up to favourites tag

England Under-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd has challenged his players to embrace their favourites tag ahead of their Toulon Tournament semi-final with Scotland.

The Young Lions are hunting their third straight title in the south of France and face the Auld Enemy in Aubagne on Wednesday.

They beat Scotland 3-0 at the same stage last year, going on to lift the trophy.

The teams also face each other in their Euro 2019 qualifying group with England having already won 3-1 in November and Boothroyd wants his squad to welcome any expectation.

“Playing for England, the boys have got to be able to deal with being favourites,” he told Press Association Sport.

“We’ve got to be able to play as underdogs sometimes, it’s different labels but the same thing applies.

“I’m hoping at the end of it we can have all our cake and eat it by getting the players into the system, winning he tournament and seeing one or two come through.

“Scotland will be a tough nut to crack, they’ll be up for it and think they can win. It’ll be up to us to win that battle first and then let our football do the talking.”

England finished second in Group A, behind Mexico who they drew 0-0 with, with the Mexicans playing Turkey in the other semi-final.

England also earned a 2-1 win over China and thumped Qatar 4-0 as Boothroyd uses the tournament as preparation for their expected qualification for Euro 2019.

Age rules mean Boothroyd cannot pick players born before 1997 but he has been impressed with those who have stepped up.

He said: “We’ve got momentum, the most important thing wasn’t necessarily to win it, the most important thing was to get through to the latter stage and make sure we work on some of the things we’ve talked about.

“There are guys who have come to the fore who I didn’t know that well before – Jay Da Silva, Eddie Nketiah  and the guys who have been here before who have gone off the radar and come back.

“Adam Armstrong has been outstanding. He has been one of our best players. Those are three guys who have given me a bit of food for thought.”

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