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‘It gave everybody a lift across the country’ – England U21s set to bring World Cup spirit to Carrow Road

PUBLISHED: 14:51 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:51 04 September 2018

Former Norwich City number one Angus Gunn is poised for a Carrow Road return with the England U21s Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

Former Norwich City number one Angus Gunn is poised for a Carrow Road return with the England U21s Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

England Under-21s boss Aidy Boothroyd is hoping to bring the spirit of the senior side’s surge to the World Cup semi-finals to Carrow Road on Thursday night.

England U21 head coach Aidy Boothroyd was in Russia as part of the senior squad's back-room team during the World Cup Picture: Nick Potts/PAEngland U21 head coach Aidy Boothroyd was in Russia as part of the senior squad's back-room team during the World Cup Picture: Nick Potts/PA

The Young Lions are in Norfolk for a European U21 Championship qualifier against the Netherlands, with former Canaries players James Maddison and Angus Gunn both in the squad.

Former City academy coach Boothroyd led the U21s to the Toulon Tournament title in May and was then part of Gareth Southgate’s back-room team during the World Cup in Russia.

“It’s been one of those once-in-a-lifetime years really and hopefully that’s not the end of it,” Boothroyd said ahead of the game, a 7.45pm kick-off.

“My summer was completely taken up by football, it was like a bus man’s holiday for me. We managed to get the performances and results in Toulon that we wanted and then I had a day at home before flying out to Russia with the senior team. Gareth thought it was important that the U21 head coach should be the link between the development and senior squads so he invited me.

“I couldn’t turn an opportunity like that down so to be in every meeting, at every game and pretty much every training session at a World Cup from a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ perspective was a tremendous experience. It really is something that can spur us on to bigger and better things. It gave everybody a lift across the country, as well as those working around the England teams, to see what we’re doing is turning into some sort of fruition.”

The U21s go into the game top of Group Four and five points clear of the Netherlands having won five and drawn one of their games so far. A trip to Latvia awaits on Tuesday, with victory in both guaranteeing qualification for the finals in Italy.

“It’s a really good tournament, it’s the strongest teams in Europe coming together and it’s the next best thing for young players to go and feel what it’s like to play in these big stadiums and against really good players,” Boothroyd added, speaking to City’s website.

“You also have the media spotlight on it and it’s important for them to be able to deal with that and play with the freedom that we want them to do.”

• Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for concessions, from TheFA.com/tickets, by calling 01603 721902 or from City’s ticket offices.

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