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Published 11 May 2023 8 min read
Men's Elite League Squad

Ian Foster: 'U20 World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime competition for these players'

Written by:

Frank Smith

England MU20 head coach Ian Foster discusses his FIFA U20 World Cup squad and looks ahead to the tournament in Argentina

Ian Foster is delighted with the England men’s under-20 squad he has been able to select for the FIFA U20 World Cup and is hoping the players can now show all the qualities which made them European champions last summer.

The U20 World Cup is set to take place in Argentina between 20 May and 11 June.

With leagues across Europe continuing into early-June, plus the two-legged Championship and League One play-off semi-finals taking place over the next seven days, with the finals over the weekend of 26-28 May, there were plenty of conversations and selection headaches for head coaches like Foster to have in recent weeks.

England MU20s have named four players who are involved in the EFL play-off games: Callum Doyle and Brooke Norton-Cuffey (on loan at Coventry City), Aaron Ramsey (on loan at Middlesbrough) and Peterborough United centre-back Ronnie Edwards.


The players, who were all key parts of the squad that lifted last summer’s UEFA U19 EURO, will then look to link up with England MU20s once their involvement in the play-offs has concluded.

Foster said: “We’re really pleased to have submitted our squad. We have had to work incredibly hard. We’ve had discussions with club owners, directors of football, managers, head coaches, academy directors, parents, agents and the players to get this squad over the line.

“Ultimately, what we all want is to give the young players the best opportunity to get on the plane because this is a once-in-a-lifetime competition for them.

“We’re pleased with the group we have managed to secure over the last few days and now we can really focus on the tournament.”

Darko Gyabi is one of the players promoted from the MU19 squad for the U-20 World Cup
Darko Gyabi is one of the players promoted from the MU19 squad for the U-20 World Cup

Foster has called up three players from this season's England MU19s group for the tournament: Brighton goalkeeper James Beadle and defender Imari Hines-Samuels, plus Leeds United midfielder Darko Gyabi.

And Foster added: “We’re really pleased with the final squad. There is a balance with the players who over the last 20 months that we have been together have earned the right to be on the plane, with their performances not only for us but for their clubs, and then we have some players who are joining us for the first time.”

Foster first joined the FA as a specialist coach for the MU17s in February 2017 and after leading the MU18s, took charge of the MU19s at the start of the 2020-21 season.

During his time leading the U19s, Foster and his staff have prided themselves on the culture and unity they have built among the squad, which along with some outstanding performances on the pitch, helped his side win the U19 EURO in Slovakia last summer to qualify for the U20 World Cup.

With the age group then progressing on to the U20s and the U20 World Cup this season, it was decided Foster would remain with the same group of players for this summer’s tournament.

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England win U19 EURO title

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The squad are set to reunited once again at St. George’s Park on Saturday before flying out to Argentina on the evening of Tuesday 16 May, with their tournament getting underway against Tunisia on Monday 22 May.

Group E will see the Young Lions also face Uruguay on Thursday 25 May and Iraq on Sunday 28 May (all 7pm BST kick-off times), before the knock-out stages begin on 3 and 4 June, with the semi-finals on Thursday 8 June and the final on Sunday 11 June.

When asked about his hopes and expectations for the tournament, Foster explained: “I felt we were on the more difficult side of the draw, because if you finish top of your group on the other side then you get to play the third-place team, rather than having to play a team who finished second. So, if we are able to make the last 16, then the game is a bit more difficult.

“But all we want is to give a true account of ourselves. We want to play our way, we want to be authentic, and we want to show everyone why we were the team who won the European Championship last summer.

“If we can do that and if we can continue to build on the culture that we have created over the last couple of seasons, then I think we can go deep into the tournament, which is what we are all hoping for.”

Ian Foster is set to lead a side into a World Cup for the first time
Ian Foster is set to lead a side into a World Cup for the first time

The U20 World Cup had initially been scheduled to take place in Indonesia, but a late change saw it switched to Argentina.

It will be Foster’s first World Cup as a head coach but he stressed: “It is not just that I'm proud to be leading a team into the World Cup. I'm proud every time I get on camp with these guys, with that kit on, and knowing the responsibility we all have as a group of staff to be leading these players.

“I think the change of host venue has added something a little bit more special to it. We are going to the home of the senior team world champions, and they are the most decorated U20 World Cup team, having won the tournament six times, so it all adds into the mix.

“I am really excited and really proud, not only for me but for the whole staff as I know how hard they have all worked to be here.”

He continued: “I spent a couple of days in Argentina recently and managed to go to a Primera Division game, which gave me a taste of what is to come in terms of the atmosphere, how passionate the supporters are and it will just be a wonderfully new experience for our group of players to play in those, in front of those type of supporters. We can’t wait.”

England's U-20 World Cup squad