Young England duo feeling confident and ready

Nathaniel Chalobah is primed to compete in his third European Under-21 Championships when England get the tournament underway later today, and our midfielder is hopeful the Young Lions can make a lasting impression in Poland.

Chalobah was just 18 when he featured in all three of England’s group games at the 2013 edition in Israel after a fantastic season on loan at Watford. He was the second-youngest player at the tournament.

A little wiser and older by 2015, Chalobah played every minute in the Czech Republic but again England couldn’t make it out of the group stages despite being top seeds alongside the hosts. He is determined to do better this time around in what will be his final games for the Under-21 side.

‘I’m really looking forward to it,’ Chalobah tells the official Chelsea website.

‘It’s been a long time preparing for it and I’m just waiting for it to start now. We’ve done well going in to the tournament. We will try and take the confidence we have got from our recent games into the competition.

‘From my experiences at the past two tournaments we didn’t do well, but tournament football is always different. It can often just depend on the day of the game, and whether you turn up. It’s about trying to get as many points as you can to get out of the group.

‘Just to handle the pressure well,’ Chalobah responds when we ask what advice he would be passing on to his less experienced team-mates.

‘We are a big nation and there is a lot of pressure on us to do well especially at major tournaments. We have to be ready for that.’

The 22-year-old, who made 15 appearances for the Blues this season, reveals that Aidy Boothroyd – who replaced Gareth Southgate last year when he was promoted to the senior team – quickly implemented his style of play upon taking over.

Unfortunately, both Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Izzy Brown are missing this tournament due to injury but Chalobah will not be the only Chelsea representative in Poland. Lewis Baker and Tammy Abraham are in the 23 having both enjoyed very productive campaigns away gaining experience on loan, and Chalobah points to the young striker who scored 26 goals for Bristol City last term as one who could provide the firepower to help England reach the knockout stages.

‘We have a good squad overall. In terms of the Chelsea lads it’s a real shame Ruben is out because he is a key player for us and was very good in qualifying.

‘Tammy is a key player for us too. He’s done really well this season; he’s embraced the opportunity to go out on loan. Tammy deserves the plaudits he is getting because he has worked very hard and I hope he keeps his form going.’

Abraham himself, who scored two goals in his two appearances in qualifying for Poland, is feeling positive about producing when the action gets underway with England taking on Sweden at 5pm UK time. Slovakia and the hosts are also in their group. 

'It's going to be tough but our aim is to win and do the best we can,' Abraham said. 'I wouldn't say we're under pressure but we are going to do our best.

'I have confidence going into it but it's never going to be easy. Hopefully I've done enough this season to get into the team. If I have, I'll work as hard as I can.

'You know there are other players out there, but to be picked for England it shows you are doing something right,' the 19-year-old added. 'It's a good feeling.

'You're playing with excellent players and they make you perform well on the pitch. They make you feel good, provide great service and as soon as I went in the players made me feel welcome and I felt settled.'