QPR boss plays down England Under-21s link

QPR boss Mark Warburton has played down reports linking him with the England Under-21 manager’s job.

Warburton is among those to have been touted as a possible replacement for Aidy Boothroyd.

An early exit from the Under-21 European Championship has led to speculation over Boothroyd’s position. His contract expires this summer.

Justin Cochrane, who began his playing career at QPR, later had a spell at Hayes & Yeading and is now in charge of England’s Under-17 side, has also been linked with the role.

So too has former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard.

Warburton, who previously worked under Boothroyd at Watford, said: “I think I’m one of 27 people linked with the job.

“It’s always flattering to be linked. But I’m QPR manager, one of 27-30 names linked to the job, and I wish Aidy the very best.

“Aidy is someone I know very well. He was manager at Watford when I came in to the academy. He promoted me to academy director.”

England have made a second successive group-stage exit from the Under-21 European Championship under Boothroyd.

This week he defended his record by insisting his remit is mainly to develop players for Gareth Southgate’s senior national side – and Warburton agrees.

“That is a very tough job. I saw his comments and he’s exactly right,” Warburton said.

“It’s about getting players into the England senior team to help produce a winning team at the highest possible level.

“The job has to be about the performance of the senior team. It’s about the pyramid to get players to the top level.

“It must be about preparing players to perform for Gareth at the highest level. How many players go through should always be the judgement.

“Of course you want to win (Under-21) trophies and do well. But the priority must be to get players to Gareth to perform for the team.

“Look at the players, like Mason Mount, you now have performing for England. You see Phil Foden and others.

“The team are producing players and there are many more behind them as well.”