Demarai Gray still harbours hopes of late World Cup call

Leicester winger Demarai Gray is still eyeing a late World Cup call after being handed the England Under-21 captaincy.

He was skipper for the first time and scored in Saturday’s 2-1 friendly win over Romania as the Young Lions prepared to face Ukraine.

Gray has scored four goals in 36 appearances for Leicester this season, although is yet to provide a direct assist.

He is also still to earn a senior England call from Gareth Southgate but has not given up hope of making the plane to Russia this summer.

He said: “I’m still 21 but my experience is that nothing is too soon, anything is round the corner. I’ve just got to knuckle down and do what I do and see what comes.

“Of course at my age I’ve got my personal targets and aspirations and it’s good to see Lewis (Cook) now, and obviously Tammy (Abraham) and Dom (Solanke) went to the last camp with the first team.

“I wouldn’t really call (not getting called up) a disappointment, it happens as you grow up from a young age.

“So for me it was kind of one where players have moved up, but maybe I wasn’t ready yet or maybe (Southgate) didn’t think it was my time.

“But it shows the England manager has got faith in young players and if you’re doing well when you come and perform here and at your clubs then everyone’s got a chance.

“So for me personally I want to be up there and keep working hard and knuckling down. I believe in myself and believe my time will come.”

Gray scored his sixth under-21 goal when he opened the scoring at Molineux before debutant Jake Clarke-Salter made it 2-0 in the second half.

Valentin Costache pulled a goal back for Romania, who gave the Young Lions a fiercely competitive game ahead of Tuesday’s Euro 2019 qualifier against Ukraine in Sheffield.

The friendly was named the Cyrille Regis International in honour of the former England, West Brom and Wolves striker who died in January.

“I’m quite humble with my achievements, but I think this one is one of my proudest ones,” Gray said.

“Representing your country and also the occasion for Cyrille Regis was nice to captain. To get the win made it even better.

“It was a big honour for me and my family and being a local boy it was nice to have them come down and watch.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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