'A credit to Leeds United' - England U20s boss Andy Edwards reveals thoughts on Whites trio and Joe Gelhardt's promotion

England Under 20s boss Andy Edward says his Leeds United players bring energy, character and a good mentality to the Young Lions side.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 4:45 am
TWICE UNLUCKY - Sam Greenwood forced a great save and hit the post with a free-kick as part of a Leeds United trio featuring for England Under 20s against Italy at Chesterfield. Pic: Getty

Lewis Bate, Cody Drameh and Sam Greenwood all started for Edwards against Italy at Chesterfield's Technique stadium on Thursday night.

Both Drameh and Greenwood were involved in the build up to Bate's goal, which cancelled out Daniel Maldini's opener for Italy, and all three put in displays that pleased their manager.

Bate recovered from a difficult start to pull the strings from midfield, Drameh was a problem Italy struggled to solve all night and Greenwood twice came close to getting his name on the scoresheet, denied by a fine save and the woodwork.

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The striker didn't stop running all evening, pressing defenders and giving his team-mates an option when England had possession.

Edwards was more than content with the way his team performed in the 1-1 draw but like Bate, who said England deserved to win, wasn't satisfied with the scoreline.

"I thought it was an excellent game," he said.

"We knew it would be a tough test against a good Italian side. To come away with a 1-1 draw, I wouldn't say we were satisfied because over the 90 minutes I thought we probably deserved to win the game.

"Really pleased with the performance, maybe a little bit disappointed with the result."

Playing in front of a 6,394 crowd that included Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa, the trio of Leeds Under 23s prospects caught the eye with their contributions.

"I was very impressed with Cody," Edwards told the YEP.

"He's a really good lad, they come with a great mentality the Leeds boys, as all the boys do to be fair. I was really pleased with his performance tonight."

Edwards was disappointed for Greenwood that he didn't join Bate among the goals, but liked what he saw off the ball from the former Sunderland and Arsenal youth.

"He was unlucky," said Edwards.

"We got into that final third, got into good areas in the pitch. If there was one criticism we weren't ruthless enough but that's certainly not aimed at Sam. He's such a threat all the time, he's a nightmare for any defender to play against. He never stops running, he plays off the shoulder, he's clever with his movement. He was a little bit unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet."

Bate also impressed the manager in a composed display that was ended in the 73rd minute by an ankle injury.

"He's got the ability to control the game in parts," said Edwards.

"Technically he's excellent, very creative, good vision, looks to play forward. I thought he was one of our standout players. "Unfortunately he had to come off with an injury that's hopefully not too serious. It was a good performance."

The original idea was for Edwards to have four Leeds players at his disposal, as he had for last month's international break, but injuries in the Under 21s brought a promotion for Joe Gelhardt.

Bang in form for Leeds Under 23s, the 19-year-old has spent the week with Lee Carsley's Young Lions along with Whites team-mate Charlie Cresswell. The pair watched from the bench as England surrendered a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Slovenia in a Euro 2023 qualifier.

Gelhardt's absence might have impacted Edwards' initial plans for the Under 20s games against Italy and Czech Republic but he says it's proof of the current pathway for young English talent.

"It is pleasing," he said.

"We're lucky we've got a pathway, we've got some really good players in the development teams and the likes of Lee Carsley with the Under 21s and Gareth Southgate with the senior team, who have full knowledge. It opens up the doors of opportunity if the players are good enough. There's good communication across all the age groups through to the senior team. It's a great opportunity for Joffy."

With Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford now capped at senior level, five youngsters involved with the Under 21s and Under 20s and more academy players in the younger Three Lions age groups, Leeds are well represented in the national set-up.

The four Edwards has worked with so far this season have also represented their club well.

"I'm not privvy to everything that goes on at Leeds but they've been in the pathway for a while, they speak very highly of Leeds," he said.

"They bring great energy and fitness levels, they're strong, good characters, Sam, Joffy, Lewis and Cody. They're a credit to their club."