Jude Bellingham has been named in the England U21 squad for next month’s European Championship qualifiers against Kosovo and Austria.
The midfielder became the world’s most expensive 17-year-old when he joined Borussia Dortmund from Birmingham City for £25m this summer.
The call-up sees the teenager jump four age groups – which Sky Sports News exclusively revealed last week – with his experience of international football so far coming with the U15s, U16s and most recently, U17s.
England U21 boss Aidy Boothroyd has also selected Brentford midfielder Josh Dasilva for the first time, while Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi is back with the squad having been involved with the senior set-up in the last international window 10 months ago.
Arsenal forward Eddie Nketiah returns to the squad after injury caused him to miss last November’s qualifier in Albania, along with club colleagues Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson.
Tottenham’s Ryan Sessegnon and Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster are also among those involved again, having started pre-season impressively for their clubs.
Boothroyd’s side are top of Group C having won their first four matches. They play away to Kosovo on September 4 before travelling to Austria four days later.
“We’re all really looking forward to meeting up for the first time since November,” said Boothroyd.
“We have two testing away matches against our closest rivals in the group and it’ll be a good opportunity for the players to come together again, even if it will be an unusual experience with no crowds at either of the fixtures.
“We had a 2-0 home victory against Kosovo in Hull a year ago and I remember they made things difficult for us with a disciplined defensive performance.
“After that, we played really well in a 5-1 win against Austria in Milton Keynes, which I’m sure our hosts will want to make amends for when we make the return trip.
“We know we are in good shape for the qualification and this is a hungry squad that have a great opportunity in front of them with next summer’s finals not too far away.
“We have to get the job done first and these will be two tough fixtures. I am looking forward to seeing the players again and helping them with another key stage in their development.”
The squad will meet up at St George’s Park on Monday, with the camp being operated under strict coronavirus protocols, before heading to Kosovo for the first game later in the week.
Boothroyd added: “We know this remains a challenging time and I am grateful for the efforts of everyone involved, particularly our medical staff. It is always a privilege to be representing your country and we cannot wait to get going again.”
Goalkeepers: Brandon Austin (Tottenham), Josef Bursik (Doncaster Rovers), Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United)
Defenders: Max Aarons (Norwich), Ben Godfrey (Norwich), Marc Guehi (Chelsea), Reece James (Chelsea), James Justin (Leicester), Lloyd Kelly (Bournemouth), Jonathan Panzo (Monaco), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ryan Sessegnon (Tottenham)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Todd Cantwell (Norwich), Josh Dasilva (Brentford), Tom Davies (Everton), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Oliver Skipp (Norwich)
Forwards: Ebere Eze (Queens Park Rangers), Rhian Brewster (Liverpool), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Reiss Nelson (Arsenal), Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal)
Sky Sports News reporter Rob Dorsett:
“Dortmund’s Bellingham was named player of the tournament when England U17s beat Poland in the final of the Syrenka Cup last September, but the FA are planning an accelerated programme of development for the midfielder, who only turned 17 in June.
“The schedule is designed for him to be ready to join up with Gareth Southgate’s senior squad in the next two or three years – depending on how he develops in Germany.
“If he gets as much game time as Jadon Sancho has in the past in the Bundesliga, there are even hopes Bellingham could be part of Southgate’s plans for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“However, there are concerns among some FA officials that pushing Bellingham too far too soon could be to his detriment. He has yet to be involved in a competitive international tournament with any of England’s junior sides so there is also a desire for him to get that experience sooner rather than later.
“Next summer’s age group tournaments are still to be confirmed by UEFA as they try to deal with the hectic schedule in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Southgate announced his senior squad for next month’s Nations League games against Iceland and Denmark on Tuesday, handing first call-ups to Mason Greenwood, Phil Foden and Kalvin Phillips.
England U21 team-mates Greenwood, 18, and Foden, 20, have been named in the squad following impressive seasons for Manchester United and Manchester City respectively, while Kalvin Phillips is included after helping Leeds earn promotion to the Premier League.
Greenwood scored 17 goals in all competitions last term, becoming just the fourth teenager in United’s history to achieve that feat in a single season.
Foden scored eight times and provided nine assists for City, while Phillips missed just nine matches during Leeds’ Championship-winning campaign.
Harry Maguire – who had initially been named in the squad for the September fixtures – was later withdrawn on Tuesday after the Manchester United captain was found guilty of three charges by a Greek court and given a 21-month suspended prison sentence.
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