England Under 21 boss Aidy Boothroyd urges Burnley winger Dwight McNeil to go for goal

England Under 21 boss Aidy Boothroyd admits he will be urging Dwight McNeil to go for goal more often after his wonder strike at Everton.

By Chris Boden
Monday, 15th March 2021, 5:00 pm
Dwight McNeil
Dwight McNeil

Boothroyd named the Burnley winger in his 23-man squad for the delayed UEFA European Under 21 Championship group stages in Slovenia, where the Young Lions will face Switzerland, Portugal and Croatia.

The top two sides in each group will go through to the last eight knockout tournament in Slovenia and Hungary in late May and early June.

The former Watford and Coventry boss believes McNeil, 21, can fill a number of different positions, not just left wing, and he was thrilled to see him pop up centrally at Goodison Park, beating Brazilian midfielder Allan, before curling a sublime effort into the top corner beyond England number one Jordan Pickford.

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Boothroyd said: "He’s played a lot of games - two and a half seasons in the Premier League and probably one of the first names on the team sheet.

"He is playing regularly and winning regularly which is terrific.

"He’s played as a left back for us, a left wing back, a left winger, on the right hand side and in the midfield three as a eight.

"He can play in a number of different positions.

"I’ve noticed Sean has given him a little bit more leeway in that he’s finding himself in the middle of the pitch in different spaces, and as Burnley the team evolve, it’s great to see him evolving.

"He has always been a terrific assister with that wand of a left foot he has got, he puts great crosses across.

"I saw a little bit of his guile and his ability to finish (at Everton), and I will certainly be encouraging him to shoot more if that’s what he’s capable of doing when he gets around the box!"

While Sean Dyche and Boothroyd believe McNeil's talent continues to develop, Boothroyd feels his character is coming out more and more around the England camp: "With Dwight, when he first came with us he was very shy and introverted, but as time has gone on and he’s proved himself to be a regular Premier League player, when he’s come back to us in camps he’s been one of the main guys.

"He’s started speaking! He’s got a lot more to say and certainly a lot more to give.

"He’s a player that I once left out of a squad and he’s proven me right in the fact that he’s forced his way back in and there was never any doubt that he would be in this squad."