Eddie Nketiah will captain the England u21s for the group stage of the u21 European Championships this week, admitting he’s delighted for the opportunity.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND: Eddie Nketiah of England celebrates with teammate James Justin after scoring their team's fourth goal during the UEFA Euro Under 21 Qualifier match between England U21 and Albania U21 at Molineux on November 17, 2020. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND: Eddie Nketiah of England celebrates with teammate James Justin after scoring their team’s fourth goal during the UEFA Euro Under 21 Qualifier match between England U21 and Albania U21 at Molineux on November 17, 2020. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The England u21s kick off their Euros campaign with a match against Switzerland on Thursday, 25th March at 14:00 GMT. If you’re in the UK, all the group games are being shown live on Sky Sports.

Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah will hope to be involved after manager Aidy Boothroyd named him captain ahead of the tournament.

“My captain, our captain, will be Eddie Nketiah,” Boothroyd said. “He is one of the leadership team, he is the record scorer which is huge when you consider he has beaten Alan Shearer.

“He is very humble, hard-working and before you talk about his football, he is a genuinely good guy who everyone likes and respects. He was the right choice.”

Nketiah has struggled to get any games with Arsenal lately. He hasn’t made a Premier League squad since January, and despite featuring in three of the four squads for the Europa League knockout rounds, he didn’t make it onto the pitch at all.

In fact, the only time Nketiah managed to play a match in preparation for the u21 Euros was when he dropped down to the u23s for a game against Blackburn Rovers earlier this month.

Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun ahead of a game for the Arsenal u23s (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Twitter)
Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun ahead of a game for the Arsenal u23s (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Twitter)

The striker admits it hasn’t been easy, but he’s honoured and grateful for the opportunity to impress again with England.

“It’s been a difficult month or so for myself. I’ve not played as much as I’d like to but I’ve worked hard and stayed dedicated,” Nketiah said. “I’ve got a big tournament ahead of me and I’m grateful for the opportunity to achieve something special.

“It’s a big honour to even represent your country in a major tournament, never mind be captain. To get that responsibility is a great feeling and one I’m proud of. I’m looking forward to getting on to the pitch and contributing to something special.

“I was delighted, smiling [when told by Boothroyd]. I’m grateful for the opportunity and the responsibility he’s given me.”

England have a tough group stage ahead of them, facing Portugal and Croatia over the coming week. Nketiah will hope to help them kick things off with a goal or two in a win over Switzerland.

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