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England Under-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd talks up Demarai Gray

The winger took over the captaincy and netted the opener for the Young Lions.

England Under-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd praised Demarai Gray’s growing maturity after he was handed the captaincy in the victory over Romania.

The Leicester winger opened the scoring as the Young Lions won their friendly 2-1 at Molineux on Saturday.

Chelsea defender Jake Clarke-Salter also netted while Valentin Costache bagged a consolation for the visitors, as the teams paid tribute to Cyrille Regis.

The former England, Wolves and West Brom striker died in January with the friendly at Molineux named the ‘Cyrille Regis International’ in his honour.

And Boothroyd believes Birmingham-born Gray, skipper for the first time, was the perfect choice to have the armband.

He said: “Dom Solanke was supposed to be the captain but he took a knock yesterday, I wanted to make sure he was 100 per cent for Ukraine.

“In a tribute to Cyrille Regis I thought it would only be right for a local boy to take the armband.

“And it was a captain’s performance until I took him off to save him for Ukraine on Tuesday.

“He deserved his goal – he was absolutely terrific. He also has leadership qualities.

“When Tammy (Abraham), Dominic and Lewis Cook moved up he was a little disappointed, he wanted to get to the seniors.

“I spoke to him and told him to keep working hard and get into his club side on a regular basis. The players respect him.”

Gray opened the scoring after eight minutes when he linked well with Ademola Lookman while Clarke-Salter made it 2-0 midway through the second half.

He had earlier deflected Andrei Ivan’s shot onto the post in the first half as England were given a stiff test by competitive Romania.

“Some of our stuff was breathtaking at times,” said Boothroyd. “Young players like coming to England, it gives them a little break from the hurly-burly of the Championship or the Premier League.

“It’s nice they can come with us and feel like they can relax, play expansive football, entertain and win.

“Romania are top of their group and that includes Portugal and the Welsh who always have a good go so we’re pleased we’ve got the result.”

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