Lee Carsley eager to get waiting over as England Under-21s face Czech Republic

The Young Lions are three points behind with two games in hand in the race for Euro 2023 qualification.

By Press Association Published: 2 June 2022 - 9.30pm

Boss Lee Carsley admits he has been preparing for England Under-21s’ crunch trip to the Czech Republic for months.

The Young Lions go to Ceske Budejovice on Friday aiming to reel in the Group G leaders and move closer to qualifying for Euro 2023.

They are three points behind with two games in hand and also face Albania, Kosovo and Slovenia to complete qualifying this month.

Their last competitive match was a 3-0 win in Albania in March and Carsley has had plenty of time to get ready.

“I’ve been planning for this game for so long. I’ve been watching the Czech Republic for most days, to the point of overkill,” he said.

“It’s difficult to deal with the big gaps, because I love coaching. I love developing players but it’s difficult to develop when I’m not with them. When they’re on camp, I can’t smother them.

“I love the camps, the games. Every game seems to have been must-win and I’m fully aware of that.

“Against the Czech Republic in November (a 3-1 win) we managed the second half better but I’ve got conflicting feelings about it. We managed the game better but our style went a little bit. We weren’t as dominant in possession as I would like us to have been.

“We had a couple of breakaways but it’s something we need to be aware of – that match management.”

Manchester City defender Taylor Harwood-Bellis will skipper the side having trained with the seniors this week.

Aston Villa’s Jacob Ramsey, Wolves midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White and Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun also joined Gareth Southgate’s squad at St George’s Park with Harwood-Bellis eager for more.

He said: “Obviously it was a huge achievement, going up and experiencing that with some of the best players in the world. The intensity was huge and the standard was very good. I feel like I took to it all right and couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Hopefully I can use that experience.

“It wasn’t just (training against) Harry Kane, they’re all very good. The quality is ridiculous. I’ve obviously trained with the City lads but not the others like that before.

“You get the taste of it and want more but I know it’s not going to be easy to get there full time.”

Meanwhile, Harvey Elliott has pulled out of Friday’s qualifier after testing positive for Covid.

Tottenham’s Ryan Sessegnon and Chelsea’s Levi Colwill, who spent the season on loan at Huddersfield, have withdrawn.

“Harvey has Covid but we’re hoping he joins up with us later on,” added Carsley. “He came in here, had his dinner and woke up the next day with a sore throat and a headache.”

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