Emile Smith Rowe’s honesty is his standout quality, England Under-21 head coach Aidy Boothroyd said after the Arsenal youngster was called into the squad for this month’s European Championship group stage.
The 20-year-old will be part of the 23-man squad that has been drawn to face Switzerland, Portugal and Croatia in Group D, with clubmate Eddie Nketiah also included.
Boothroyd, who has not worked with Smith Rowe before, believes the attacking midfielder has been one of Arsenal’s two best players in recent months along with Bukayo Saka and is excited to see him up close when the squad convenes next Monday.
“He has been outstanding for his club,” Boothroyd said. “Honesty is the word that jumps out to me. We can talk about all the technical qualities that he’s got, his willingness to work for the team. But he is so honest in what he does. He is desperate to please.”
Boothroyd feels that is particularly clear in terms of his work rate off the ball and ability to envisage moves developing well in advance of them happening.
The head coach added: “You can see the little techniques in his game, particularly without the ball. People wouldn’t really associate him without the ball, but his wlllingness to work, to get into position, to check his shoulders, to make sure he is doing what the coach wants him to do.
“I think probably the key thing for him, what I like so much about him, is his football brain. He is one of those players who sees things happening before they actually occur. Sees a pass, runs into a space where he thinks the ball is going to be.
“We are only seeing the start of him. If he can stay fit we have got a real player on our hands there. When I spoke to Keith Downing about him, who he was with with the U19s and through other teams in the pathway, all that comes out is what a good character he is, and that’s very important for us as a group as well.”
England U21 squad
Goalkeepers Josef Bursik (Stoke City), Josh Griffiths (Cheltenham Town; on loan from West Bromwich Albion), Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United)
Defenders Max Aarons (Norwich City), Ben Godfrey (Everton), Marc Guehi (Swansea City; on loan from Chelsea), Lloyd Kelly (Bournemouth), Ryan Sessegnon (Hoffenheim; on loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Steven Sessegnon (Bristol City; on loan from Fulham), Japhet Tanganga (Tottenham Hotspur), Ben Wilmot (Watford)
Midfielders Tom Davies (Everton), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Conor Gallagher (West Bromwich Albion; on loan from Chelsea), Curtis Jones (Liverpool), Dwight McNeil (Burnley), Oliver Skipp (Norwich City; on loan from Tottenham Hotspur)
Forwards Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United), Mason Greenwood (Manchester United), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Noni Madueke (PSV Eindhoven), Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal), Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal).