Luke Shaw insists he is happy to play for Under-21 side next summer

The Manchester United defender is linking up with the younger group this week - and would be happy to do so again for the European Championship next summer

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The Independent Football

Manchester United defender Luke Shaw says he would jump at the chance to play for the England Under-21 side in next year's European Championships.

Shaw reported for duty with the Young Lions on Monday morning ahead of their crunch play-off against Croatia, who come to Molineux on Friday before the return leg takes place in Vinkovci four days later.

If they win the tie, Gareth Southgate's squad will qualify for next summer's tournament in the Czech Republic.

Although England's seniors have games against the Republic of Ireland and Slovenia just before the Under-21 tournament starts, manager Roy Hodgson has said he would be happy for some of his players to go to the Czech Republic to earn more experience of playing tournament football.

Shaw, as well as the likes of Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere are still eligible for the Under-21s and the Manchester United left-back would be more than happy to play in the tournament next June.

"Yes, of course," Shaw said when asked whether he would consider taking part in the Under-21 championships next summer.

"I always want to help out my country and I know there are few other lads who can also drop down as well that summer.

"I've had a little discussion about it with Gareth Southgate but nothing too big.

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"I'm away with them for the next couple of weeks and we can get to talk about it properly then."

Shaw enjoyed a dream summer, signing for United in a £28million deal just a few weeks after playing in the World Cup.

He was quickly brought back down to earth when Louis van Gaal criticised him for turning up to pre-season out of shape.

Shaw won back his manager's faith and is now a first-team regular at Old Trafford, but on the international scene he is still behind Leighton Baines in the pecking order and he thinks any experience of tournament football would help his development.

"Tournament experience is vital for any young player and something that needs to be built up before you get promoted into the senior team," the 19-year-old added.

"I went away for the World Cup and it was an amazing experience. This summer coming up could be another time when I could get more experience at tournament level."

A few eyebrows were raised when Hodgson allowed Shaw to join up with the Under-21s instead of the senior side, who face San Marino and Estonia this week.

But the player himself, who started his second game for United on Sunday, has no qualms about dropping down to Southgate's squad.

"Roy rang me the week before it came out and said told me it wasn't a punishment," Shaw said.

"He wants me to help out the Under-21s. It's not just me. Saido Berahino is in the Under-21s but he might have got a (senior) call-up.

"We're all happy to help. It's always been a privilege to play for my country, no matter what level it is and I will do it and do my best."

Shaw joined up with Southgate's squad at St George's Park 24 hours after an eventful afternoon for him at Old Trafford.

Shaw looked bright going forward, creating two excellent chances for Radamel Falcao, but he almost cost United a point when he fouled Tony Hibbert in the United box.

Luckily for Shaw, David de Gea saved Baines' penalty and United won the match 2-1 thanks to Falcao's first goal in English football.

The teenage defender thinks the penalty should not have been given, though.

"I'm not going to say the penalty was a bad decision but it was one I did not feel was right," he said.

"I thought I touched the ball and, if you look at the replay, I think you can see I did.

"I'm devastated it was a penalty but all thanks to David De Gea.

"He was world-class and made us get the three points."

PA

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