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Home Sport Football

Under-20s playing time a boost to Southgate

It will be a year on Monday since England’s Under-20s became world champions.

Captain Lewis Cook led the way as a third of England’s Under-20 World Cup winners went on to feature in the Premier League last season.

Monday marks the anniversary of England’s triumph, when they beat Venezuela 1-0 in the final thanks to Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s goal and Freddie Woodman’s penalty save.

Press Association Sport has calculated the minutes played in senior league action in 2017-18 by all 21 players in the squad, with seven players combining for 7,531 minutes in the English top flight – an average of almost 12 full games apiece for the players concerned.

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Freddie Woodman celebrates with the Under-20 World Cup trophy (Nigel French/PA)

Nine more featured extensively in the Championship and the remainder also earned senior action, with only one exception – third-choice goalkeeper Luke Southwood, who was limited to Reading’s reserve team.

The data will be at least cautiously encouraging for England senior manager Gareth Southgate, who has spoken at length about the limited player pool he has at his disposal.

Cook played 2,238 minutes, almost two-thirds of Bournemouth’s Premier League campaign, after skippering Paul Simpson’s team to glory in South Korea last summer.

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Lewis Cook emerged as a key man for Bournemouth (Daniel Hambury/PA)

That was more than five times as much playing time as he got in the previous season, a pattern which was repeated by several of his team-mates.

Everton’s summer spending spree did not stop them leaning heavily on youth, with significant involvement for striker Calvert-Lewin and defender Jonjoe Kenny. The pair played over 1,500 minutes apiece, up from Calvert-Lewin’s 346 and just 12 for Kenny the year before.

Ademola Lookman also featured for the Toffees in the first half of the season and racked up further high-level experience after moving on loan to Bundesliga side RB Leipzig in January.

Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke and Tottenham full-back Kyle Walker-Peters were the others involved in the top flight while several other Premier League players gained experience on loan.

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Graphic looking at how England’s Under-20s fared at club level (PA Graphic)

They included Toffees youngsters Kieran Dowell and Callum Connolly, who led the way in terms of Championship playing time with, respectively, 2,698 minutes for Nottingham Forest and 2,550 for Ipswich.

Fikayo Tomori also topped 2,000 on loan from Chelsea to Hull while Josh Onomah and Sheyi Ojo impressed for play-off finalists Aston Villa and Fulham respectively.

Dael Fry played regularly for Middlesbrough and Sunderland gave exposure to both Liverpool’s Ovie Ejaria and Chelsea’s Jake Clarke-Salter.

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Adam Armstrong, left, helped Blackburn win promotion (Simon Cooper/PA)

Newcastle’s Adam Armstrong had loan spells at both Bolton and Blackburn, playing 1,118 Championship minutes and 1,621 in League One, and was joined at promotion-winning Rovers by Middlesbrough forward Harry Chapman.

Dean Henderson, on loan from Manchester United, played 41 games in goal for League One play-off finalists Shrewsbury while defender Ezri Konsa established himself with Charlton and has been linked with Everton and Brighton.

Newcastle’s Woodman moved north of the border on loan and played five Ladbrokes Premiership games for Aberdeen – though his most noteworthy moment came in the Scottish Cup quarter-final, when he reprised his spot-kick heroics with three saves in a shoot-out win over Kilmarnock.

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