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McNeil Offers Premier Class

Clarets winger hoping for first England Under-21 cap

10 October 2019

Dwight McNeil hopes his Premier League pedigree will help him win a first England Under-21 cap.

McNeil is with Aidy Boothroyd's squad preparing for a friendly in Slovenia on Friday night and a European qualifier against Austria at MK Dons next Tuesday night.

And as one of only a couple of outfield players to have featured regularly in the top-flight this season, the Clarets’ winger has put himself firmly in the frame for a starting role.

“On Saturday, it was my 30th Premier League appearance which I didn’t know until after the game,” said McNeil – who has started every league fixture bar one for the Clarets since the turn of the year.

“I’m really happy and really fortunate to have the gaffer believing and trusting in me. 

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“It’s good to have it under your belt. It shows that I have that little bit more experience than other lads which is in my favour a bit.

“We’ll have to see what happens, but I hope I get my opportunity.”

Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and Norwich City midfielder Todd Cantwell are the only other two players in the Under-21 squad to have been ever-presents for their clubs in the Premier League this season.

But all of the party have tasted first-team football at some level and McNeil hopes the mix will pay off as England look to stay top of their qualifying group for the 2021 Euro Finals in Hungary and Slovenia.

“There are players with different experience in this team,” he added.

“I’ve got more than some others and then there’s people like Tom Davies, who’s got loads of experience, and others who are playing week-in, week-out for Premier League or Championship clubs.

“I think it’s really good that we are bringing it together and hopefully we will do well in the next games.”

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McNeil’s only previous international experience has come with England’s Under-20 side after injury forced him to withdraw from the Under-21s last month.

But the 19-year-old - who this week trained for a second time at St George's Park with Gareth Southgate's full England squad - has shot to prominence after becoming a key part of the senior set-up at Turf Moor.

And he admits things could hardly be going better at club level since becoming a key component of the Clarets’ resurgence in 2019.

“I’m living the dream at the minute,” confessed McNeil, who signed his first professional contract at Turf Moor 18 months ago after progressing through Burnley's Academy ranks.

“It’s a great place to be; a wonderful club, a great set-up, great bunch of lads and a great coaching staff. I’m really loving life.

“I think I’m doing really well, but I also think there’s room for improvement for me on and off the pitch.

“I think I’ve stayed grounded. I’ve kept doing what I’m doing. The best thing for me is not to get ahead of myself.”

England Under-21 squad:

Goalkeepers: Brandon Austin (Tottenham Hotspur), Ellery Balcombe (Viborg FF, loan from Brentford), Aaron Ramsdale (AFC Bournemouth)

Defenders: Max Aarons (Norwich City), Trevoh Chalobah (Huddersfield Town, loan from Chelsea), Marc Guehi (Chelsea), Reece James (Chelsea), James Justin (Leicester City), Lloyd Kelly (AFC Bournemouth), Jonathan Panzo (Cercle Bruges, loan from AS Monaco), Steven Sessegnon (Fulham), Ben Wilmot (Swansea City, loan from Bournemouth)

Midfielders: Todd Cantwell (Norwich City), Tom Davies (Everton), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Conor Gallagher (Charlton Athletic, loan Chelsea), Dwight McNeil (Burnley), Oliver Skipp (Tottenham Hotspur), Joe Willock (Arsenal)

Forwards: Rhian Brewster (Liverpool), Callum Hudson Odoi (Chelsea), Eddie Nketiah (Leeds United, loan from Arsenal), Sam Surridge (Swansea City, loan from Bournemouth).

Meanwhile, U23 striker Lewis Richardson's chances of an England U17 apperance have been put on hold, as the 16-year old forward has withdrawn from the Three Lions' squad due to a minor injury.


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