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Lewis Baker says pressure is off England U-21s

Lewis Baker is a critical player in England's under-21 side Credit: PA

England Under-21 midfielder Lewis Baker has vowed they have no fear as they plot Euro 2017 glory.

The Young Lions are in the semi-finals of the tournament for the first time since 2009 after winning Group A in Poland.

They have moved to Krakow from their previous base in Kielce as they prepare for Tuesday's last four game against Germany in Tychy.

And Chelsea man Baker insisted England are not frightened of any team, including favourites Spain - who they can only meet in the final.

Baker started the tournament playing further forward but has dropped deeper after John Swift was introduced in the second game - a 2-1 win over Slovakia.

The 22-year-old, who has spent the last two seasons on loan at Vitesse Arnhem, still scored a penalty in Thursday's 3-0 win over Poland which booked a semi-final spot and is happy with whatever role boss Aidy Boothroyd gives him.

I like to do a bit of both defending and attacking, trying to get from box to box, is what my game is all about. Whatever [system] the manager thinks is best we have to go with that.

I think the pressure has come off us a little bit now because we got through the group stages and into the semi-finals but I know the boys want to go as far as we can and we're all looking to achieve something big.

We've been in big games before like at the Toulon tournament last year when we won that.

As a team and a squad we're used to playing together in important matches so we'll just take it in our stride.

As you start playing more and more games the momentum starts building and the confidence builds and we've started playing like we know we can.

– Lewis Baker

Boothroyd: Slovakia game is must-win for England U-21

England u-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd Credit: PA

England Under-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd has labelled their Slovakia showdown as must win.

The Young Lions head into their second Euro 2017 game on Monday after Friday's opening 0-0 draw against holders Sweden.

Defeat would leave their Group A qualification hopes hanging by a thread with leaders Slovakia having already beaten hosts Poland 2-1 on Friday.

Only the group winners and best runner-up from the three pools go through to the semi-finals and Boothroyd knows England cannot afford to let Slovakia get out of sight.

He also cited the importance of England manager Gareth Southgate being around, saying he believes it shows the players there is an opportunity to step up to the senior side.

It's knockout football now without a doubt. We've got to win and then win and win the next one after that. But we have to beat the Slovakians first.

They have had a brilliant start. They're a very good team and I've been really impressed with them. Their game with Poland was probably better to watch than our game with Sweden and it will be difficult. We totally respect the result they got.

We have to go full pelt for every game but at the same time because of the squad that we've got I've got to think about using everyone that's in it.

But we have to win so I've got to pick the best team, even if some of them might be a bit tired they might have to play a smaller part in the game and think about what goes on in the last half hour of the game.

It's really helpful having them here. It's great that Gareth, Steve and Dan are here because it shows players there is a pathway for them.

And if the senior manager can take time out of his busy schedule to come to watch us then it gives the players a boost. Gareth's been very positive. We are very close anyway.

It's great, if I have any questions about players Gareth can be my sounding board because he knows them all so well and was with them in Toulon.

– Aidy Boothroyd



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