Boothroyd hanging on to a slim hope after another sorry defeat for England U21

Emile Smith Rowe in action for England

Emile Smith Rowe in action for England against Portugal in the U21 European Championship. - Credit: LUKA STANZL/PA

England's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the U21 European Championships are hanging by a thread but manager Aidy Boothroyd has urged his players to focus on that slim opportunity.

There had been criticism of the tactics and creativity as England opened their campaign on Thursday with a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland and they were still there in abundance as the side limped to a sorry 2-0 defeat against Portugal, failing to register a single shot on target in both matches.

England's Oliver Skipp

Oliver Skipp at the final whistle following England's defeat to Portugal in the U21 European Championship. - Credit: LUKA STANZL/PA

Welwyn Garden City-born Oliver Skipp and former Chancellor's School pupil Emile Smith Rowe were both picked from the start although the Arsenal man lasted just 45 minutes. Stevenage's Ben Wilmott was an unused substitute yet again.

The loss leaves the Young Lions rock bottom of group D and means they now have to beat Croatia by two goals and hope Switzerland lose to Portugal on Wednesday to reach the next phase.

But Boothroyd, who is out of contract in the summer, was looking to keep hold of that slim hope.

England U21 manager Aidy Boothroyd.

England U21 manager Aidy Boothroyd. - Credit: LUKA STANZL/PA

He said: "My view is, I'm here to do this tournament and we are disappointed. We have some hope so while there is hope we have to go after it.

"That's what I have to do, not consider my future but the immediate future and see if we can get a result against Croatia.

Portugal's Dany Mota Carvalho scores for Portugal against England

Dany Mota Carvalho scores Portugal's first goal in their 2-0 U21 European Championship win over England. - Credit: LUKA STANZL/PA

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"It does hurt because you always want to win, I have to do my job, pick the lads up, pick the staff up and go again.

"It's still mathematically possible. We wanted to go into the final game with it still in our hands but unfortunately it's not.

Oliver Skipp in action for England U21 against Portugal

England's Oliver Skipp looks on as referee Francois Letexier awards a penalty to Portugal in the U21 European Championship match. - Credit: LUKA STANZL/PA

"Considering the amount of goals we scored leading up to this, it was a real strength of this group. To not have a shot or a real threat is something we need to rectify for the next game.

"This should be about the team, the players who got us here, the players who have done very well.

"It hurts a lot and I'm affected by it. It's mathematically possible, we have to go out and get a good result. You have to make sure you bounce back when things go wrong."

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