Gareth Southgate names Wilfried Zaha in first England Under-21 squad


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The Independent Football

The Gareth Southgate era began for England's Under-21 side as the new head coach called up Southampton's James Ward-Prowse and the Tottenham defender Zeki Fryers for the European Championship qualifiers against Moldova and Finland next month.

After the 2013 edition culminated with Stuart Pearce's side losing all three matches in Israel this summer, his successor has named a 25-man squad to begin the qualifying campaign that will also include games against Wales, Lithuania and San Marino. There were also recalls for the Manchester United midfielder Nick Powell, while his Old Trafford team-mate Wilfried Zaha has been demoted from the senior squad having appeared as a substitute in the friendly victory over Scotland.

Former United left-back Fryers is called up for the first time having previously represented England at Under-16, U-17 and U-19 level. Ward-Prowse is rewarded for his impressive early displays for Southampton and joins his team-mate, defender Luke Shaw. The teenage left-back has still not made his Under-21 debut, having withdrawn four times previously, and he was one of just four of the players in the squad who featured in the Premier League's starting line-ups over the weekend.

With that in mind, Southgate acknowledged he faces a real test in his first post since being sacked by Middlesbrough in 2009. "There is a great challenge for English players and coaches because the rest of the world wants to come here and play, so we have to make ourselves the best we can possibly be," he said. "There's a very exciting group of players, technically very exciting to watch, but technique isn't the only thing. You have to be strong mentally. This squad looks to have more depth to it, more technically proficient players coming through."

Under-21 squad for European Championship qualifiers

J Bond (Watford), J Butland (Stoke), G Long (Sheff Utd); E Dier (Sporting), E Fryers (Spurs), T Kane (Chelsea), M Keane (Man Utd), J Robinson (Liverpool), L Shaw (Southampton), J Stones (Everton), T Thorpe (Man Utd), A Wisdom (Liverpool); T Carroll (Spurs), N Chalobah (Chelsea), W Hughes (Derby), N Powell (Man Utd), J Shelvey (Swansea), J Ward-Prowse (Southampton); Sammy Ameobi (Newcastle), J Lingaard (Man Utd), N Redmond (Norwich), W Zaha (Man Utd); S Berahino (West Bromwich), H Kane (Spurs), C Wickham (Sunderland).