Kieran Dowell says England Under-20s are raring to go as the Young Lions look to progress to the World Cup knockout stages on Friday.
The Blues midfielder is part of the Everton contingent in Paul Simpson’s squad for this summer’s tournament in South Korea, with Jonjoe Kenny, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Callum Connolly and Ademola Lookman also involved.
The Young Lions currently sit second with four points and one round of fixtures remaining in Group A, following a 3-0 win over Argentina - in which Calvert-Lewin scored and Dowell set up two goals - and a 1-1 draw with Guinea, and know they will progress to the last 16 if they avoid defeat against the hosts.
Prior to this year’s finals, England had not won in the competition in 17 attempts, a run that dated back to 1997.
But with that overcome, the Ormskirk-born Academy graduate believes England must believe they can win the tournament, such is the talent in their ranks.
“Of course, we want to win the competition,” he told evertonfc.com. “There was a bit of talk before we came out about England not winning at this age group for the past 20 years, but we quickly put that to bed in the first game. We know we’re capable of winning the tournament, but we’re just taking each game at a time.
“We’re pleased with four points from our opening two games. The first aim was to get out of the group, because we were facing difficult games against a South American nation and then an African nation. It’s different and you have to cope with the different demands of each game.
“We’re feeling good. We went to Japan a week before coming here to adjust to the time, the conditions and things like that. We also had a few practice games out there and that has stood us in good stead for the competitive games here.
“It’s nice to have the five of us [from Everton] out here. We all get on well and we’ve been hanging around each other quite a lot, it’s been good to have those familiar faces. I’ve come through the Academy with Jonjoe [Kenny] and Cal [Connolly] since the age of eight or nine, we’ve been on tours all over the world with each other since then and it’s great to still be doing it now.
“We always help each other and urge each other to keep improving.”
Friday’s game against group leaders South Korea, which kicks off at midday (UK time), is set to be played in front of a large crowd at the 43,959-capacity Suwon World Cup Stadium.
“We know there are going to be a lot of fans at the stadium - there is even talk of a sell-out,” added Dowell. “It’s a big occasion for them and we know that because of the atmosphere around the town. Everyone is talking about it and people are excited it’s happening over here.
“They’ve really bought into it and I’m sure it’s going to be a good, loud atmosphere on the day. That’s what you want. You thrive off playing in front of big crowds and we’re looking forward to it.”
Keep an eye on evertonfc.com for regular updates throughout the tournament.