Interim England Under-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd has told Demarai Gray to emulate Jesse Lingard after the winger fired the Young Lions to Euro 2017.
Leicester’s Gray scored his first goal for the Under-21s in their 1-0 victory in Kazakhstan on Thursday to seal qualification for next year’s European Championships in Poland.
He is expected to start again when they host Bosnia in their final Group 9 game at Walsall on Tuesday.
Gray, 20, helped Leicester win the Premier League last season after joining from Birmingham in January and has made eight appearances for the Foxes this season, including two in the Champions League.
Manchester United forward Lingard made his senior debut in Saturday’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Malta at Wembley after playing for interim boss Gareth Southgate for the Under-21s and Boothroyd believes Gray and others can follow him.
“They (Leicester) have proved that anything is possible. When you look at some of the players who have played in the under-21 group, they have pushed on to bigger and better things in terms of their clubs and at senior level as well,” he said.
“Obviously Gareth, who is in the job for the next couple of months, knows that better than anybody. Jesse Lingard is a good example – was playing for the under-21s, was out of his club side, got back in his club side, was outstanding against Malta and has put himself right there in Gareth’s thoughts.
“I can remember 18 months ago, Demarai came to Toulon with us as a little skinny thing from Birmingham and he has grown, physically, mentally and he has matured really well.”
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish is expected to start at the Banks’s Stadium after missing the trip to Kazakhstan with an ankle problem while Wolves’ Dominic Iorfa is available after injury but Leicester defender Ben Chilwell is out.