Former Norwich City winger Nathan Redmond fired up for final chance of European glory with England Under-21s
England begin their European Under-21 Championship against Sweden this afternoon, with Norwich City duo Jacob Murphy and Angus Gunn both hoping to be involved.
The Group A opener is a 5pm kick-off, with matches against Slovakia to follow on Monday (5pm) and Poland on Thursday (7.45pm) for Aidy Boothroyd’s side.
Murphy has given his hopes of game-time a big boost with two goals in a 3-0 win over Iceland in a warm-up friendly and a spectacular goal from inside his own half in training which has gone viral on social media thanks to a tweet from Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand.
On-loan goalkeeper Gunn is expected to act as cover to Everton-bound Jordan Pickford but a likely starter is former Canaries winger Nathan Redmond.
The Southampton star made his senior England debut in March but is looking to add to his 34 caps for the Young Lions – and make it third time lucky at the U21 Euros.
Redmond was part of the unsuccessful campaigns in Israel in 2013 and the Czech Republic two years ago, both of which ended in group stage exits.
“Of course, there’s a few of us for which it’s our last one,” said Redmond. “I’ve got an extra bit between my teeth as I want to get as far as I can. A few of the boys will be saying the same.
“For me, it’s taking my experiences from the last two tournaments and trying to help the boys if they need it.
“Obviously I’ve been here before but I don’t really want to flood their heads too much because some players want to play free and there is pressure playing in the U21s.
“But it’s a relaxed environment at the moment so hopefully will stay that way.”
The 23-year-old also revealed that his efforts with the U21s four years ago played a part in persuading Chris Hughton to take him to Norwich from Birmingham City, in a deal worth £3.2million.
“I was meant to go to the Under-20 World Cup [in Turkey in 2013],” he explained.
“We had the training camp and I was meant to have a week off. The day before I was going on holiday with my family, Stuart Pearce called and said I’d been called up for the finals in Israel. I literally packed my bag and went to meet up with them.
“I do remember a lot about it because I got my move to Norwich City on the back of it. We had a lot of talented players but under-performed.
“In the last one, we prepared well and won all our games in qualifying. We weren’t going into the tournament scared or anything but we came up short.
“We didn’t perform as well as we could and that is the major thing for us now – in the last two tournaments we have smashed qualifying and then come to the major tournaments – albeit we won Toulon last year – we haven’t done so well in the finals.
“We’re hoping to change that this time.”
Based on his experience, Redmond is targeting a fast start to the tournament against the Swedish youngsters.
“We’ve got to get out of the group stage,” he added, speaking to TheFA.com. “And in my past experiences, you need to win or get a result in the first game. Then momentum can start to kick in.
“We will take it step-by-step. This is a relaxed camp at the moment because the bulk of the work has been done at St George’s Park so we will keep working hard.
“It’s different from the previous two I’ve been in. We’re out here for longer leading up to the games so that should help us.
“If you look around the group then we’re all in and around first team football so we’ve been getting used to each other’s company over the past few weeks.”
England’s matches are live on Sky Sports and we’ll keep you up to date with the involvement of Murphy and Gunn at www.pinkun.com.