Why Frank Lampard England U21 claim did not upset Aidy Boothroyd before biggest game of career

Aidy Boothroyd wants to continue as England Under-21 boss after this summer and says that he has been successful in an “utterly impossible” job as speculation mounts over potential replacements following another poor start to a tournament.

The head coach is out of contract at the end of this season, meaning Wednesday evening’s meeting with Croatia, in a European Championship that has so far gone badly wrong, could be his final match in charge.

For England to progress from the group stages they must win by two or more goals and then hope Portugal, who are already qualified, defeat Switzerland at the same time.

Boothroyd has described it as the biggest match of his tenure and qualification will be no easy feat considering that the Young Lions’ only shot on target in their first two games came from a direct free kick and Portugal are likely to give some fringe players a run out with their progress to May’s knockout stages already assured.

“I know that the England senior men’s job has been called the impossible job, I think the England Under-21s job is the utterly impossible job,” Bootroyd said.

“The reason I say that is because the amount of players that have to be produced for the senior team and the fact that we are expected to win. There’s a reason why we haven’t won this tournament for 37 years and why we haven’t progressed as much as we thought we would.

“Part of that is because our primary aim is to get players through to Gareth. We want to win as well but when different personnel come up that is usually because they’ve been moved into the seniors or they’ve lost their way with us and find a way back.”

With reports of Frank Lampard already being considered on a shortlist for the job, Boothroyd insisted that he is not distracted by speculation and said he views his four-and-a-half years in the role as a success.

“It’s a really good job working for really good people and with really good people, so obviously the runners and the riders are going to get going in this situation,” he added.

“But as far as I’m concerned there is nothing to get upset about. I’m currently in the chair and have enjoyed being in the chair and want to carry on and do what I think has been a successful job. That’s it really. I don’t get distracted too much, it’s more to focus on the team and the staff.”

Boothroyd, who is sweating on the fitness of six players having seen Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi return home with a shoulder injury, has spoken with senior boss Southgate and the FA’s technical director John McDermott regularly this week, stressing that they are still on the same wavelength.

He added: “Are we on the same page? Absolutely, we’re on the same pathway. You shouldn’t be in youth development if you think your job is to win every game and not promote players.”

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