Betts' England Pride

Wednesday 3 June 2015 15:54

Marcus Bettinelli described his inclusion in the England squad for the European Under-21 Championships as the ‘icing on the cake’ to a fine debut season for Fulham.

The goalkeeper was hugely impressive in his first campaign between the sticks for the Whites, coming second in the Club’s Player of the Season vote.

And he was rewarded with a place on the plane when Gareth Southgate’s Under-21s head to the Czech Republic later this month.

“I’m delighted,” Bettinelli told the official website after being named in Southgate’s 23-man squad. “It’s going to be a good experience going out there and being involved in an international tournament. I’m looking forward to it and it was a proud moment getting called up. My family are very happy for me.

“It was a really good season for me personally with Fulham; it couldn’t have gone much better. This is really the icing on the cake. It’s the last year I can play for the Under-21s and I’m relishing it.”

Southgate’s squad will train at St. George’s Park for the next two weeks and will play Belarus at Barnsley’s Oakwell on Thursday 11th June ahead of their arrival at the Championships. There, Bettinelli will battle it out with Stoke City’s Jack Butland and Watford’s Jonathan Bond for a spot between the sticks.

“They’re both very, very good goalkeepers,” said Marcus. “It’s going to be tough to get a starting spot but it’s a good squad where everyone is willing to put a shift in and play their part. Whatever part that is, we’re all happy to help out. We’ve got good strength in depth in the squad and we’re all looking forward to going out there and trying to bring the trophy back.”

England are in Group B along with Italy, Portugal and Sweden but Bettinelli is confident the Young Lions can go far.

“I think we can go all the way,” he stated. “We’ve got such a strong squad and such a strong spine and we’ve got a really good feeling. We’ve got real quality and a lot of competition for places, which keeps people on their toes. We’re going to go out there and try to make the country proud.”

While most footballers have been sunning themselves in warmer climes following the end of the season, Bettinelli has been a regular visitor to Motspur Park in recent weeks to stay in shape for the Euros.

“I had a few days away but I was back at Motspur Park about five or six days after the end of the season,” he stated. “When you have the chance to play for England, it’s a small sacrifice to make.

“We’ve got the training camp at St. George’s Park now and then we head to Olomouc on Sunday 14th June. We’ve got some tough games while we’re out there but we’re all looking forward to it and we hope to do something special.”