Rico Lewis and Jarrad Branthwaite handed first under-21 call ups

Manchester City’s Rico Lewis and on-loan Everton starlet Jarrad Branthwaite are handed first England under-21 call ups by Lee Carsley ahead of games against France and Croatia

  • Lee Carsley has named a 26-man squad for games against France and Croatia
  • Rico Lewis – who has been a standout performer for Manchester City – included
  • Jarrad Branthwaite has impressed on-loan at PSV and is also part of the squad 

Rico Lewis and Jarrad Branthwaite have received their maiden England under-21 call ups for this month’s fixtures with France and Croatia. 

Lee Carsley named his 26-man squad for the games later this month a day after Gareth Southgate announced his senior men’s squad for crucial European Championship qualifiers.

Manchester City’s Lewis and on-loan Everton starlet Branthwaite, who has impressed this season with PSV Eindhoven, are the standout names among the squad.

Lewis has established himself as a first team player under Pep Guardiola this season, playing in a range of positions, displaying his versatility, ability and tactical intelligence. 

Guardiola himself has spoken incredibly highly of the 18-year-old, praising his ability to take in and perform instruction.

Rico Lewis has received his first England under-21s call up after impressing this season

The 18-year-old has played across a range of positions and established himself in the first team

Jarrad Branthwaite – on loan from Everton – has been a standout performer for PSV this season

Having been loaned out to the Dutch club last summer, Branthwaite has impressed thoroughly for PSV this season with the side sat fourth in the Eredivisie, six points off leaders Feyenoord.

Branthwaite’s former PSV team-mate, Noni Madueke who joined Chelsea in a £30m January move, is also included.

Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson has received a first international call up at any level.

Other notable inclusions include Charlie Cresswell, who has been instrumental for Millwall on loan from Leeds this season. 

The 20-year-old has made six previous appearances for England’s last age-group side, while only eight Millwall players have played more minutes than him this term.

The likes of Emile Smith-Rowe, Curtis Jones and Cole Palmer, of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City respectively, have been called up despite extremely limited game time for their clubs.

Emile Smith-Rowe has kept his place in the England under-21 squad despite chronic lack of minutes

Curtis Jones is in a similar position to Smith-Rowe in that he has hardly played this season

Lee Carsley has named his squad for this month’s fixtures against France and Croatia

Smith-Rowe’s season has been blighted by persistent injury troubles, while Jones has seldom been seen for Liverpool, despite the club’s well-publicised struggles this term.

Palmer’s City involvement has been limited, and though he plays in a different position, will be concerned by the way Lewis has usurped him as the club’s pre-eminent youth team player.

Between Smith-Rowe, Jones and Palmer they have only played a total of 422 minutes in the Premier League this term. 

Oliver Skipp, who scored his first Tottenham goal last month, is included. While Folarin Balogun, who has been imperious for Stade Reims in Ligue 1 this season on loan from Arsenal, is expected to lead the line – perhaps against some of the defenders he comes up against on a weekly basis.

Goalkeepers: Josh Griffiths (West Bromwich Albion), Anthony Patterson (Sunderland), Carl Rushworth (Lincoln City, loan from Brighton and Hove Albion), James Trafford (Bolton Wanderers, loan from Manchester City)

Defenders: Max Aarons (Norwich City), Jarrad Branthwaite (PSV Eindhoven, loan from Everton), Levi Colwill (Brighton & Hove Albion, loan from Chelsea), Charlie Cresswell (Millwall, loan from Leeds United), Ben Johnson (West Ham United), Rico Lewis (Manchester City) Djed Spence (Stadde De Rennes, loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Thomas (Leicester City)

Midfielders: Tommy Doyle (Sheffield United, loan from Manchester City), Harvey Elliott (Liverpool), James Garner (Everton), Angel Gomes (Lille), Curtis Jones (Liverpool), James McAtee (Sheffield United, loan from Manchester City), Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa), Oliver Skipp (Tottenham Hotspur)

Forwards: Cameron Archer (Middlesbrough, loan from Aston Villa), Folarin Balogun (Stade De Reims, loan from Arsenal), Morgan Gibbs-White (Nottingham Forest), Noni Madueke (Chelsea), Cole Palmer (Manchester City), Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal)

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