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Published 19 June 2023 4 min read
Men's U21

Thomas backs England MU21s to impress at U21 EURO

Written by:

Frank Smith

England men's under-21 defender Luke Thomas believes the Young Lions have the squad to challenge for the UEFA Under-21 Championship

Luke Thomas has described having the chance to represent England MU21s at this summer’s UEFA Under-21 Championship as a huge honour and believes the Young Lions have enough quality to go all the way.

The Leicester City left-back was one of 23 players named by head coach Lee Carsley for the tournament in Georgia and Romania.

The MU21s have a squad full of quality, with Emile Smith Rowe already capped at a senior level and Levi Colwill travelling with the Three Lions squad for the game in Malta at the weekend; a host playing regularly in the Premier League; Angel Gomes starting most weeks at Lille in France; and several others impressing in the Championship this season. 

“I looked at the squad this morning and I thought we've got a really strong chance,” Thomas said.

“Obviously we've got a lot of Prem players that are playing [regularly] at the moment and then we've got quality players from everywhere else as well. 

“I think in each position we've probably got two players that are good enough to play and I believe that we can go very far in this tournament.”

19 Jun 2023 3:43

Classic England goals from previous U-21 EUROs

Watch back some of the standout Young Lions goals from previous UEFA Under-21 Championship campaigns

Thomas was speaking just a few days after seeing team-mate Cole Palmer win the Champions League and Ben Johnson lift the Europa Conference League with West Ham, something which the defender believes can only benefit the MU21s.

“It is fantastic for them and hopefully they can bring that experience into the tournament and help us get the results we want,” he said.

While Palmer was in Istanbul preparing for the Champions League final, Thomas was part of a MU21 side that faced Japan in a friendly at St. George’s Park.

With the match being behind closed doors, there weren’t many people in attendance but one of those there was England men’s senior team head coach Gareth Southgate.

Thomas with his Leicester City team-mate and England senior international James Maddison at St. George's Park.
Thomas with his Leicester City team-mate and England senior international James Maddison at St. George's Park.

The pathway from the MU21s to the senior side has been clear, with Smith Rowe, Conor Gallagher and Marc Guehi among those to make the step up in recent times, and it was evident once again at the weekend as defender Colwill was asked to step up and fill the void left by the injured Lewis Dunk.

And Thomas said: “A lot of the first team staff come over and watch training and Gareth was there to watch the behind-closed-doors friendly on Saturday, so as players you can see that he's always watching to see how we're all getting on.

“There’s definitely a pathway there and if you do well then you'll get your chance.”

Thomas’ football journey started around the age of two when he would kick the ball around with his family before joining local grassroots side Riverside FC at four.

After playing for Riverside – under the guidance of his dad – for a few years, the then-Merton Primary School pupil’s talents were spotted by his local club Leicester City.

The former Wreake Valley and Beauchamp College pupil progressed through the ranks to become a regular in Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City squad, culminating in the left-back starting the club’s historic FA Cup final win in 2021.

Luke Thomas has shown he is one of the best young left backs in the country.
Luke Thomas has shown he is one of the best young left backs in the country.

Thomas described it as the best day of his life and is hoping to lift another trophy at the Batumi Arena in Georgia on Saturday 8 July.

“It's always an honour to represent your country, it is a childhood dream that you had always had,” he said. 

“Representing England in the U-21 EURO will be one of the best things I've done in my career.

“Obviously I've been lucky enough to play in an FA Cup final before and that was the best day of my life. So hopefully I can repeat that and get to the final of this tournament.”

England MU21s will kick off their UEFA Under-21 Championship campaign on Thursday against the Czech Republic, with kick-off at 5pm BST and the match being streamed live via UEFA’s website.

England MU21s