Stuart Pearce’s 40-man Preliminary Squad for this summer’s European Under-21 Championships has been named this evening, and includes five Chelsea youngsters, making The Blues the most represented club in the party.
Michael Mancienne, Daniel Sturridge, Ryan Bertrand, Jack Cork and Josh McEachran are all named and all stand a strong chance of being in the final 23 heading to Denmark in June.
The quintet are regular faces amongst Pearce’s recent selections and includes two captains. Mancienne, who has 27 caps, has served as the team’s captain this season with only Fabrice Muamba having represented the team more than the versatile defender.
In his recent five-month absence, Pearce has handed the armband to a number of different faces but one amongst those was Bertrand, who has made the left-back spot his own in 2010-11 and recently made his first team debut at Stamford Bridge.
Sturridge has been one of the most in-form strikers in the top flight since joining Bolton Wanderers on loan at the end of January and has three goals at this level, most recently scoring against the hosts in a friendly in March.
Midfielders Cork and McEachran may have been born almost four years apart but both stand a strong chance of making the cut. Cork has rarely featured from the start but is a versatile and intelligent player who brings a wealth of football league experience to the table.
McEachran, meanwhile, earned his maiden selection this season after breaking into Carlo Ancelotti’s first team squad and has been fast-tracked through the English setup after playing a major part in their European Under-17 Championship success last summer.
It is the 18 year-old McEachran who is the most likely of the group to fall to the wayside, particularly with the Under-19 team facing upcoming Elite Round Qualifiers of their own, but he is spoken of in glowing terms by influential people in the Football Association and could serve as something of an understudy to Jack Wilshere, who looks set to be included despite club protestations.
The announcement will come as a source of great pride for those working at Chelsea’s academy, as they feature more players than any other club.
This has also been the case at Under-16 level throughout the course of the season and it is highly likely that from junior level through to senior, the current domestic Champions have had the most players donning English white.
England were drawn against Ukraine, Spain, and the Czech Republic and open their campaign in Herning on June 12th. You will, of course, be able to keep right up to date with their progress here at TheChels.net, and on Twitter by following our group of Twitter accounts.