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Swift gets Young Lions call for final U21 Euro qualifiers

3 October 2016

6 Royals called up for youth internationals

There could be six Reading players on international duty at youth level in the coming week across three age groups – the most notable inclusion being John Swift, who has been called up to the England Under-21 squad their Under-21 European Championship qualifiers.

The Young Lions will be led by caretaker manager Aidy Boothroyd – they will first visit Kazakhstan on Thursday 6th October, before hosting Bosnia-Herzegovina at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium on Tuesday 11th October… and if they can top the group, they will qualify for next summer’s tournament in Poland.

Midfielder Swift, who has been voted by fans as our Player of the Month for both August and September, will link up with a squad rich with young talent – including Championship top scorer Tammy Abraham, former Royals loanee Nathaniel Chalobah and Premier League winner Demarai Gray.

The work isn’t quite done yet for England’s Under-21s – but the ball is in their court.  Their two games come against Group 9’s bottom two clubs, and their closest rivals Switzerland are two points adrift and have just one game remaining.

The Reading man already has 36 international caps across the age-groups for England – most recently helping England to lift the trophy at the Toulon Tournament last summer.  An injury prevented him from being involved in England’s 6-1 win against Norway last month after initially receiving the call, but he’s back in the mix again this time around.

Also representing England at youth level is Luke Southwood – the 18-year-old stopper has been named in the England Under-20 squad for a four-nation tournament, which takes place over the space of six days.

Netherlands, Germany and USA provide the opposition for Southwood and his compatriots, with the games taking place at Oldham, Huddersfield and Rochdale respectively.

The teenage custodian has already represented Martin Kuhl’s Under-23s on a number of occasions so far this season since graduating from the Academy in the summer – that included making some key stops in their 3-2 win against their Man City counterparts at Madejski Stadium.

North of the border, defensive duo Jake Sheppard and Zak Jules have received the call from Scotland’s Under-21s – although they’re mathematically out of the running for the next summer’s U21 Euros.

But the young duo, also regulars with Martin Kuhl’s squad, could still have a bearing on which country qualifies automatically.  Macedonia, the surprise group leaders, face Scotland on Tuesday – if the Scots can get a result in Skopje, France could nip in and top the group.  Before then, Scotland visit Iceland – who are also in contention to qualify with two games remaining.

There are two players involved in Under-19 action, as they aim to proceed to the next stage of qualifying for the U19 Euros in Georgia at the end of the season.

Midfielder Josh Barrett has been selected for the Republic of Ireland Under-19s – they will play a round-robin of fixtures against Germany, Gibraltar and Group 4 hosts Albania… the top two (and potentially the third-placed team) will qualify for the Elite Round next March.

Similarly, defender Axel Andresson is in Iceland’s Under-19 squad – Group 13 is hosted by Ukraine, who are Iceland’s first opponent, as well as Turkey and Latvia.

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