BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
Crystal Palace left back Tyrick Mitchell, 21, could prove to be almost impossible-to-ignore for inclusion in England U21 manager Aidy Boothroyd’s next squad announcement, for their final two 2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying matches, against Andorra and Albania in November.
Boothroyd saw his side confirm qualification through to the UEFA European Under-21 Championship to be held in Hungary and Slovenia in March and May/June next year, with a 2-1 win against Turkey on Tuesday night in a match where Palace’s attacking midfielder Eberechi Eze came on as a sub in the 63rd minute.
The England boss admitted those two games both are now a chance to experiment with his squad and in what could be an omen for the Eagles’ defender, they will both take place at Molineux, home of Wolverhampton Wanderers, where the Brentford academy product made his first start for the Eagles at the end of last season.
“Certainly, the latter, we’re looking all the time,” said Boothroyd to the South London Press earlier this week when asked if he had talked to Palace boss Roy Hodgson about the young defender or if he had his eye on him and he could make his way into those squads.
“Our analysts and insights department are pushing players on me all the time. We’ve got a really good depth of talent…but there’s always one which comes out of the pack.
“It was Alfie Mawson from Fulham a couple of years ago. It was Hamza Choudhury who came out from nowhere in the last one. There’s no reason why any player couldn’t put themselves into the starting line-up or the squad. I’ll be out on the road and having a look and having a check on him.”
After the Turkey victory, Boothroyd was quick to confirm that no base would be uncovered.
“There are always those that come out of left field,” he added. “That’s why we’re so diligent in our scouting; making sure we’re getting around seeing all the players, getting to the clubs because it’s important that we’ve got that relationship with them and we put the player first.
“We know that we’ve got quite a bit to do (before the European championship). I’ve got the core of the squad in my mind for the Euros, and how I want us to play and what I want us to do. We just need to see now if we can get through between now and then and hopefully get on board all the players that are needed.
“[The squad] will be dictated by what happens in terms of injuries, volume of games and what Gareth (Southgate) wants – that’s always first. In an ideal world I would be looking to get the core of the team together and to be working mostly with them in terms of what we’re going into and what we’re going to get. I’ll be looking at getting as close as I can to a starting team.
“There’s always a habit as a coach that when you get to a tournament you try and cover all bases and sometimes it’s about addressing what the key principles you’ve got to work on [are]. For us, it’s transitions and match management, and going into the finals we’ll need to make sure we’re absolutely on our game defensively.”
Mitchell is certainly one player who can help defensively, but to the surprise of many, has never been selected for an England squad previously. But he finds himself competing against such talent as Jonathan Panzo, Ryan Sessegnon, James Justin, Brandon Williams and Marc Guehi who have all played, or can play, in his position.
However, having played the full 90 minutes of the last six Premier League games for the Eagles, and appearing as a sub in the two previously, he fulfils all the criteria which Boothroyd requires.
“I think it’s really important, whatever club you are playing at, that you train through the week and then you get the examination of what you’ve done and the opponent that you have to deal with on the Saturday,” said Boothroyd about the importance of his players playing consistently for their club sides.
“Sometimes, depending on your club, whether you play Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday, whether you’re in Europe, or in the Championship, we know what they can be like as a grind over a period of time, but I would say it’s key.
“The players have got the technical ability, physically they’ll be ready, and then it’s about making sure they have that C-Word – consistency; to be able to put in performances training session after training session and match after match.
“They would be key areas for me,” he added. “But we know that 101 things can happen between now and then (Euro) in terms of injuries and call-ups to the senior team.”
“We’ve been down this path a couple of times [and] we’ll be looking to use the two games in November as training camps to make sure that we’re right for when we go in March.”
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