England Under-21 manager Aidy Boothroyd faces an anxious wait regarding the fitness of Chelsea midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah and Southampton forward Nathan Redmond ahead of next week’s European Under-21 Championship semi-final in Krakow.
Neither player made it through to the second half of Thursday night’s (22 June) impressive 3-0 victory over 10-man hosts Poland, with Chalobah, suffering with a groin problem, replaced by Watford-bound Will Hughes in the 39th minute. Redmond then made way for Norwich City counterpart Jacob Murphy at the interval.
Neither loss proved particularly detrimental as a tap-in from Murphy and a late Lewis Baker penalty added to Demarai Gray’s early long-range strike and secured England’s position as Group A winners.
However, the Young Lions, through to the last four for the first time since 2009, will hope to have both players fit for Tuesday’s meeting against either Portugal, Germany, Italy or the Czech Republic.
“They have been massive players for us, in qualifying and here. We will see how they are,” Boothroyd was quoted as saying by BBC Sport after an otherwise satisfying evening at Kielce’s Kolporter Arena.
He added: “Nathaniel felt a little bit stiff around his groin area and we felt it best to bring him off, we didn’t want to make it any worse. Redmond was the same, we just felt that if he had kept going he might have done some real damage.
“We have five days now and I want all 23 players available for the semi-final. Over to you, medics.”
Versatile Chelsea academy graduate Chalobah is an influential player for England, having featured almost 100 times for his country from Under-16 to Under-21 level. He enjoyed something of a breakthrough campaign under Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge in 2016-17 following six separate loan spells, making 15 appearances – 10 as a substitute – and collecting a Premier League winners’ medal.
Former Blues midfielder and assistant manager Ray Wilkins recently criticised the club’s rumoured £35m ($44.5m) pursuit of AS Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko, stating that, in Chalobah, Conte has a player who can “play exactly the same but just needs an opportunity to get in there.”
Another veteran of the England youth set-up who made his senior international debut as a second-half substitute in a friendly defeat to Germany in March, Redmond has also started all three matches in Poland and scored an important goal against Slovakia on Monday – his 10th at Under-21 level – as Boothroyd’s side came from behind to win.