England’s Under-21 side has been tipped to continue English football’s summer of success at their European Championship.
Aidy Boothroyd’s Young Lions kick off their Euro 2017 bid on Friday, against holders Sweden.
After failing to get out of their group in the U21s’ last three tournaments, confidence is high among the squad that England can go a long way in Poland this year.
And former England U21 manager Peter Taylor said: “It wouldn’t surprise me if we win the Under-21s now. Without a doubt they will be inspired by what the other teams have done.”
Taylor, who had two spells as U21 boss and a brief time in charge of the seniors, believes a much-needed change of attitude has been key to England’s age-group tournament displays.
He said: “In 2013 when I was taking the U20s myself to the World Cup in Turkey, the squad I took was absolutely good enough and we should have done much better. But at that particular time a lot of the clubs were getting a lot of stick because players weren’t turning up for England.
“That has done everybody a world of good, if I’m being honest.
“We have always said we have got the talent but we never used to go to tournaments with the best team. It was a bit frustrating that we would get beaten but then we would say ‘But hold on a minute… He is not here, he’s not here and he’s not here.’
“Now players, agents, managers and probably chairman all see that it is right for their players to go to these tournaments and that it’s good for them. If we go to tournaments with a stronger squad you have a good chance of winning it.
“The success is reward for a lot of hard work behind the scenes at the FA.
“Dan Ashworth (the FA technical director) doesn’t get too much praise but he has certainly helped our chances and done things in a more organised fashion.”
This summer has also shown the English kids are more than alright.
Taylor, currently somehow combining a role as third tier Gillingham’s director of football with serving as No2 for the New Zealand national team, said: “The next big step is for owners of football clubs to care about England.
“I know the Premier League is the biggest league in the world. I have worked in Bahrain and India so I know how popular the Premier League is all over the world. But they should still have a slight restriction and if they are not sure about a player of a certain nationality, they might have someone in the building already that is English and under 20. Give him a chance.
“It would be very, very nice if there were more managers like Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham, who is brave enough to give young players a chance. We need more of that.
“We still need a bit more cooperation and to care about the national team. Because if the Premier League is good, it will be even better if the England team are good as well.”