Taylor Harwood-Bellis admits he will fulfil a lifelong dream after being handed the England Under-21 captaincy.
The Manchester City defender, on loan at Stoke, has been given the armband for Friday’s Euro 2023 qualifier against Andorra in Bournemouth.
He replaces Marc Guehi after the Crystal Palace defender’s promotion to the senior team for their friendlies against Switzerland and the Ivory Coast.
Harwood-Bellis said: “It’s a big honour and something I’ve strived to be in my career. I’m ready to step up, take responsibility and be a leader.
“I let my family know and they were all proud, it’s a big thing and something I’ve worked towards. I’ve always wanted to be captain, or a leader, in any team I play in.
“I feel you can have 11 captains on the pitch even without the armband. The way I train and play I will do the same as I always have. There’s that thing about having the armband but it doesn’t change my mentality going into the game.”
Boss Lee Carsley needed another captain having only named Guehi as his skipper in September. This time, though, the boss is planning to hand the armband around his squad to aid their development.
He said: “Taylor is a player I worked with in the past, my idea is I will rotate it more than I have done in the past. Some need it for a boost, some deserve it. Taylor will captain tomorrow and we’ll potentially have another captain against Albania (on Tuesday).
“Taylor is a leader, he’s very well respected on and off the pitch but I don’t want to commit to one captain, we have enough leaders in the squad here so we can rotate. I want them to experience being that leader and leading by example.”
England host Andorra sitting second in Group G, three points behind the Czech Republic with two games in hand.
They squeezed past Andorra 1-0 in October thanks to Emile Smith Rowe’s second-half winner after Rhian Brewster was sent off.
Harwood-Bellis, who spent the first half of the season at Anderlecht, added: “It was a massive win out there, we took it as a big win. Going into the game we want to put in a good performance.
“They are going to want to beat us just as much as we want to beat them. It’s a big game, you can tell by the way we’re training. We have to come away with six points in the next two games to give us the best chance ahead of the games at the end of the season.”