A fantastic start to the season for Omar Richards has been capped with a call-up to the England Under-21 squad.
Few fancied the 21-year-old to become such a consistent performer this year but he has taken his chance with aplomb, fitting seamlessly into Jose Gomes 3-5-2 formation. In fact, such is his prowess going forward the official FA website have listed him as a midfielder for the upcoming games with Turkey and Kosovo.
But does this chance really mean anything? We scour the history books to see how the Royals’ England U21 internationals of yore got on.
Leroy Lita is arguably the most prolific Reading player to feature for the national youth team while at the club. Back in 2007 the striker was a pocket rocket forward fresh from scoring 14 goals in the Royals’ first, and best, Premier League season.
Called up to the summer’s Euro U21s, Lita missed a penalty in the first group game against Czech Republic before hitting three in three as England reached the semi-finals. He scored in the 1-1 draw with the Netherlands but wasn’t on the pitch as the Dutch won the mammoth penalty shootout 13-12. Future Royal Anton Ferdinand missed the decisive kick but Lita made the Team of the Tournament - alongside Royston Drenthe.
Another man to travel to an edition of the competition was Alex McCarthy, who sat on the bench during the Young Lions’ group stage exit in 2011. The keeper, who earned a senior call-up while at Reading, made three U21 appearances in a time when Frank Fielding dominated the No1 shirt. Smart move...
Jordan Obita was called up to the U21 squad for a game with Wales in 2014 but didn’t feature, instead going on to star in the run to fourth place at the summer’s Toulon Tournament - although his goal against Qatar in France technically came for the U20 side as the competition’s age restrictions are not concrete.
Also finishing fourth at the Toulon Tournament, albeit a year later before he signed for Reading, was John Swift. The midfielder’s 2016 switch to Berkshire saw him net the only goal of his 13 outings for the U21s, driving in a worldie during a 5-0 win over Bosnia in Euro qualification.
A whopping 40 U21 caps were accrued by Nathaniel Chalobah. Following his loan spell at Reading in 2015, he started all three off England’s group games in the summer Euros but two defeats sent them packing earlier than hoped.
Steve Sidwell, meanwhile, was largely reduced to friendlies while turning out for the national youth side in 2003. His only competitive appearance came in a defeat to Turkey in Euro qualification as he reached five caps.