England Under-21s boss Lee Carsley has challenged his players to plug the gap left by Emile Smith Rowe.
The Arsenal midfielder has been promoted to the senior squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino.
He is now unavailable for the Young Lions’ Euro 2023 qualifier with the Czech Republic in Burnley on Thursday.
Smith Rowe scored the winner in last month’s lacklustre 1-0 win in Andorra and Carsley expects others to step up.
He said: “It’s where we are quite lucky, the next players who are waiting to come in and get a chance are very good as well.
“Think of the way Anthony Gordon is playing at the moment, the players who aren’t here – Curtis (Jones), Noni (Madueke) or Ryan Sessegnon – we have an abundance of talent.
“My passion has always been to help the players, I want to win as much as I can but I’m more than happy to push them up. If they are ready and good enough they should go up.
“It’s a brilliant opportunity for Emile and it’s an opportunity he fully deserves. His form at Arsenal over the past few months has been outstanding.
“It’s one of the best things about this job, you want players to get into the seniors. We want to qualify and do well in the tournament but the prize will always be, for me, getting players into the senior team as well because that’s what I’m here to do.
“I’m not here to coach the Under-21s for myself, I want to help develop players and push them forward to play in the senior team.
“My responsibility is to make sure players are capable of making that step up to the seniors. Emile is definitely in that category and he definitely deserves a chance.
“To get into the (senior) squad is a real achievement. He’s putting himself in the shop window to be selected and he is having an outstanding season. He is an outstanding person and I love seeing players progress.”
The Czech Republic are top of Group G, five points above England having played a game more.
Carsley’s squad dropped points in a 2-2 draw in Slovenia last month and the boss knows there is little room for manoeuvre.
“Yes, it’s a game where they are top of the group and it’s a real challenge but it’s an exciting challenge,” said Carsley, who confirmed Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun will start with Rhian Brewster banned.
“It’s a chance for them to prove they are a good team and can stand up when it’s needed.
“It’s only our fourth game but we have to show people we are more than capable of winning these types of games.
“It’s a team who we have a lot of respect for, they are winning the group at the moment.
“It’s important we turn up and they show everyone what we see every day. We have got some outstanding players and if they can transfer what I see on the training ground onto the pitch we’ll be OK.”
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