Sam Gallagher is looking to play in England Under-19s’ make-or-break game against Ukraine at Burton this afternoon.
Gallagher is one of four Southampton Academy players in Noel Blake’s national squad who have won both of their opening matches in their qualification group as they bid for a place at this summer’s European Championships in Hungary.
Following their victories against Montenegro and Scotland, the Young Lions currently sit top of Group 1 – but with only group winners qualifying any slips ups against Ukraine would end the U19s quest for Euro glory.
Sam started and scored in the 6-0 demolition of Montenegro, but was an unused substitute for the game against the Scots, and is determined to push England over the line, not least because qualification could also lead to a route for the FIFA U20 World Cup in New Zealand.
"To represent England at a European Championship would be absolutely amazing – no matter what age group," Gallagher told the FA.com
"The U20s World Cup is in the backs of all our minds and there is talk about it.
"I know it’s important to take one step at a time and focus on beating Ukraine and qualifying for the Finals.
"Equally you have to have long-term goals and targets as well so there is some talk of it. But we know the first step is taking care of the game against Ukraine and we’re all focused on that."
Sam has been training at St George’s Park alongside the senior squad, where he has been able to catch up with teammate and close friend Luke Shaw, whose own achievements have acted as inspiration for the young striker.
"It was great seeing Luke [Shaw] the other night," he said. "I haven’t seen Adam [Lallana] or Rickie [Lambert] yet but it’s good knowing that they’re just a few pitches over preparing for the World Cup.
"What’s happened to Luke should be an inspiration to us all. He’s in our age group and could be playing for the U19s – but it just goes to show that if you’re good enough then you’re old enough.
"It’s really encouraging to see first-hand what’s happened to him – first of all at international level but also at club level. Luke’s played pretty much every game this season and it just shows what can happen in a relatively short period of time if you perform."