Royals midfielder helps Three Lions to comfortable win in WalsallRoyals midfield maestro John Swift started and starred for England’s U21s in the Three Lions’ final qualifying game for the 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Poland next summer.
The Royals midfielder started in a midfield three for Aidy Boothroyd’s men at the Banks’s Stadium - alongside former Royals loanee Nathaniel Chalobah - after Swift had remained an unused substitute in Kazakhstan last week, a match in which England found a 1-0 win which sealed their place in the finals tournament with today’s game to spare.
And Swift, who has scored some spectacular strikes for Jaap Stam’s side this season, opened the scoring for his country with a wonderful dipping right-footed effort from five yards outside the area – the qualifier was only 14 minutes old.
Bosnia-Herzegovina had no answer to his top corner finish and the floodgates threatened to open when Tammy Abraham doubled the home side’s lead four minutes later.
It remained 2-0 at the break, but Bosnia – who prop up the Group 9 table – were winless from their opening seven fixtures and more goals were expected after the interval. England, undefeated in their first seven by contrast, obliged.
Making his U21 debut, Josh Onomah drilled home a third soon after the restart and a sumptuous pass from Swift unlocked the Bosnian defence once more just before the hour, its recipient Duncan Watmore this time unable to find the finish the Royals midfielder's threaded ball deserved.
Watmore did find the net to make it 4-0 though and Abraham added a fifth with a well-taken dinked finish before Swift's vision released Dominic Iorfa in on goal with five minutes left and then set up Demarai Gray for a blocked injury time effort - a hungry England looking for more until the final whistle.
But 5-0 it stayed and Boothroyd's men finished their campaign with a resounding win. Swift completed the full ninety minutes, picking up a yellow card for a foul as he tracked back in the final ten minutes, but also earning the plaudits of the BT Sport pundits.
Swift, earning his 37th cap at youth level, will now be able to look forward to a major tournament with England next summer - but he will have QPR (a) and Aston Villa (h) on his mind next as he returns to RG2 to prepare for another busy set of Royals fixtures.