Leeds United: Byram makes final England Under-20 World Cup squad

Sam Byram.
Sam Byram.
Have your say

Leeds United boss Brian McDermott says he had total faith that teenage star Sam Byram would make the final cut of 21 players for England U20’s Fifa World Cup party.

Byram’s place in the squad was confirmed yesterday, (May 29) with the 19-year-old joined by Everton starlet Ross Barkley, who had a short loan spell at Elland Road at the start of the year.

Byram, whose remarkable rise to prominence in 2012-13 has alerted a number of Premier League clubs – including Manchester City and Arsenal – to his talents, will meet up with his England U20 colleagues at St George’s Park next Monday for a few days training.

After a short break, the group will reconvene before flying out to Turkey on June 12 for training and acclimatisation ahead of the tournament.

England will be based in Antalya for their first two group games against Iraq on June 23 and Chile three days later,

They then move to Bursa for their final group game with African champions Egypt on June 29.

Byram’s involvement will mean that he will miss the start of pre-season training at United on June 27.

McDermott said: “There was no doubt in my mind that Sam would be called up.

“I don’t pick the team, but Sam has every chance of playing.”

Also called up to the U20 squad for the first time along with Byram are Newcastle United midfielder Gael Bigirimana and Tottenham Hotspur schemer Alex Pritchard.

The squad also includes ex-Barnsley defender John Stones, who moved to Everton in a £3m switch in January, highly-rated Southampton player James Ward-Prowse and Middlesbrough trio Connor Ripley, Adam Reach and Luke Williams.

Sheffield United keeper George Long, a regular for the Blades in the second-half of the last campaign, is also in the party, along with Liverpool duo Conor Coady and Jon Flanagan and Spurs forward Harry Kane, who spent the final three months of last season on loan at Leicester City.

England U20 boss Peter Taylor gave a big hint that Byram would win a World Cup place recently when he spoke glowingly about the hugely-talented right-back, who is also able to operate in midfield.

He said: “Sam Byram, of Leeds United – everyone thinks he’s going to go to the Premier League.

“I did speak to Brian McDermott and he’s desperate to keep him. He’s really happy with him.”

Looking ahead to the tournament, Taylor added: “We had 27 players training with us at the (provisional) camp in Cheshire recently, so it was difficult to leave out some of them in the end because everyone trained very well.

“But I am quite pleased with the positions that we have got.

“We have certain players who can play in a couple of positions, so we have plenty of alternatives. FIFA do regard it as their second best tournament.

“I had the pleasure of looking at one in 1997 when Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher played out in Malaysia.

“It’s a really big tournament and well-covered.”

Sunderland have confirmed the impending departures of ex-Leeds defender Matt Kilgallon and Titus Bramble.

The pair will formally leave the club when their contracts expire at the end of June after the Black Cats decided not to offer either a new deal.