After a disappointing start to their U21 Euro campaign, England will look to make amends after their tournament-opening defeat to Switzerland by beating Portugal; any other result and they could be sent home earlier than expected.
Here is a look at some of the lesser-known talent in the squad whose lack of Premier League status fails to reflect the abundance of potential they possess.
Premier League fans will have been familiar with a number of the players who started for England in Thursday’s 1-0 defeat to Switzerland to kick off their U21 European Championship campaign. Indeed, the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Edward Nketiah (Arsenal), Emile Smith-Rowe (Arsenal) and Ben Godfrey (Everton), among others, were all on the team sheet for their tournament opener, which made the defeat somewhat more disappointing as one would think the elite-level experience would have been enough to edge past the Swiss despite them being a strong and defensively-organised side.
But England’s second golden generation does not just boast wonderkids from its top football tier, some have decided to pursue their careers in the Championship and abroad for a better chance of getting first-team playing time.
One of these is Ryan Sessegnon who made a 15-minute cameo off the bench in the defeat on Thursday. Many might remember the full-back for bursting onto the scene with Fulham in the Championship at the age of just 16, recording 21 league goals and 11 assists in his first two seasons of English second-tier footbal.
However, a move to Spurs significantly reduced his playing time, taking him out of the limelight. At still just 20, he is currently 21 appearances into a loan spell at Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, starting 14 times and recording two goals and two assists. Sessegnon says he has “improved as a player and a person at Hoffenheim”.
Next is Noni Madueke, the only other player in this squad who has been playing outside of England this season. At 19, the PSV Eindhoven winger is one of the younger players in this England squad. This season he has an impressive nine goals and six assists in just 10 starts in all competitions for PSV. Madueke joined the Dutch club from Tottenham in the summer of 2018, originally as a more central attacking midfielder but has since developed into a right winger, benefitting from the guidance of Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy, the U19 coach there.
Last on this list is Marc Guehi. The 20 year-old centre-back is currently on loan at Swansea from Chelsea. In the Championship, Swansea sit 3rd, in a play-off spot with Guehi starting 32 of a possible 37 games so far. The Chelsea loanee was part of the England squad that won the U17 FIFA World Cup back in 2017, scoring in the final against Spain. Out of all Championship centre-backs who have played over 1500 minutes this season, only two have made more tackles per 90 than Guehi (0.6).