England Under-19s get their Elite Round of qualification for the European Championships underway on Saturday when they host Montenegro at the home of Walsall FC, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek is confident they can progress to the main tournament, which takes place in July in Hungary.
The Chelsea midfielder ended the season at club level by captaining our Under-18s to FA Youth Cup glory as well as featuring for our Under-21s as they won the Premier League for their age group. He now hopes he can carry that success on to the international stage. The game against Montenegro precedes further matches against Ukraine and Scotland, with only the group winners securing a place in the finals in Hungary. Understandably Loftus-Cheek is not looking too far ahead.
‘You have to have goals,’ he told theFA.com. ‘But you also have to focus on the games in hand first. If you look too far down the line you can take your eye off the ball and get complacent.
‘Right here and now we have to look at the three games against Scotland, Ukraine and Montenegro – if we win all those we will get to Hungary for the Euros in July.
‘Then, and only then, can we start focusing on things further down the line, such as the Under-20 World Cup.’
The Under-19s will be staying and training at St George’s Park during the Elite Round, where the senior England team will also be based ahead of their departure for the World Cup.
‘It’s great at St. George’s Park,’ said Loftus-Cheek.
‘I’ve stayed there a few times before with England and played there with Chelsea as well. I always enjoy it. It’s a really great place to stay and the facilities are awesome – absolutely top class.
‘And to be there at the same time as the seniors, at such an exciting for them, it really is inspiring.’