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Wolves midfielder Gibbs-White wants to captain England U21s

Wolves midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White wants to captain England Under-21s – and has been told he is in the frame.
At 19, Gibbs-White is one of the youngest players in Aidy Boothroyd’s squad for the Euro U21s qualifiers away to Turkey on Friday night at against Kosovo at Hull City on Monday.
But despite his tender years, he is one of the most experienced players, with 58 senior appearances and an Under-17s World Cup winning medal under his belt.
Chelsea defender Jake Clarke-Salter captained the Young Lions as they flopped in the Euro finals this summer in Italy and San Marino, crashing out of the group stages. But he turns 22 this month and is no longer in the squad and Boothroyd is seeking new leaders.
With Clarke-Salter out of the squad and the likes of James Maddison and Mason Mount selected for Gareth Southgate’s full squad, a gap has opened up for a new skipper. Gibbs-White is only too happy to be considered, but others, such as Norwich trio Max Aarons, Ben Godfrey and Todd Cantwell, plus Everton midfielder Tom Davies, have similar amounts of experience.
“I’ve definitely got those qualities and I’d love to be the captain of this incredible, talented Under-21 side,” said the Stafford-born midfielder. “But we’re all still working hard, putting the work in, so it’s up to the manager who he decides the captain is. I’m sure whoever it is will take to it like a duck to water.”
Boothroyd believes Gibbs-White, who has experience of playing for England at Under-17 and Under-19 level, has the qualities needed to wear the armband. “He’s a terrific character and that’s the first thing we look at,” said Boothroyd. “He could well be in the leadership team and put himself around the captaincy.
“He will get games because of Wolves’ fixture list and he’s doing exceptionally well.”
Boothroyd however warned the captaincy, as well as the make-up of the team, could change between now and this time next year.
“Because of the personalities and because they are not all playing, I am still to work out what the leadership group and captain is going to be, and who will play a key part,” he added.
“We’re in September, so looking back to last September and comparing where we were then compared to the team that went into the final stages it is going to be different.”
Gibbs-White believes the promotion of Leicester playmaker Maddison and Chelsea midfielder Mount to the full squad is the incentive for the Under-21s to earn the same call-up. “’Madders’ and Mason have got their first team (senior) call-ups now. That shows they have learned from that tournament and are cracking on with the season and look where it’s got them,” he said.
“It’s only an age group away, so it’s definitely a benchmark because seeing they can do it shows anyone can do it. With the pathway that’s going through the England set-up at the minute, it’s frightening.”
Gibbs-White was part of the U21s squad that failed in the summer when they were confident of winning the tournament, but his only action was the last 17 minutes in the final group game against Croatia, a dead rubber that ended 3-3. Maddison and keeper Dean Henderson claimed they were the best team at the event, but Gibbs has denied there was any culture of arrogance in the squad.
“I wouldn’t say it was arrogance, I would say it was a lot of frustration because we were losing, but the boys believed in themselves,” he said. “We had a month before where we were working so hard and to get to the tournament and get let down the way we did, I think it was due to frustration.
“But as a footballer you have to have belief in yourself to keep going, and I think that was why the boys are as they are, because without that, I don’t think they would have gone into the next season as strong as what they have.”
Gibbs-White added: “We all know it wasn’t a good enough tournament, but we live and we learn. The players that played in it, that will with them for the rest of their careers, but it’s a learning curve and I’m sure we’ll all bounce back from that stronger.
“The new group we’ve got in now is young, hungry and talented. We had our first session on Monday and the boys are looking sharp so we’re more than ready to get going.”