Bardsley: McNeil good enough for Under-21s

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PHIL Bardsley admitted he was ‘surprised’ that Clarets teammate Dwight O’Neill had not been selected for England Under-21s and instead had to settle for a place in the national Under-20s squad.

The 19-year-old winger has been impressive form since breaking in to the Clarets first team against West Ham in December where he scored in a 2-0 victory at Turf Moor.

The teenager has started every game since – impressing with his positive intent – and played a key role in Clarets eight-match unbeaten run.

So impressive has his form been that defender Bardsley believes he should have been called up for the England Under-21s side.

“I was quite surprised with him being in the Under-20s, I thought he’d be pushing for the Under-21s, his performances have been that good,” said Bardsley.

“His performance last week, especially against Liverpool was outstanding, he was probably our best player.

“His performances are growing and he is as a person as well.

“If you see the other players who are in, (Callum) Hudson-Odoi and (Phil) Foden in the under-21s, I think Dwight deserves to be in there with them.”

Clarets boss Sean Dyche, though, does not see it as a slight.

“There’s a bit of loyalty in international football,” he said. “I know (Under-21s boss) Aidy (Boothroyd) and he’s got a group there who’ve done well.

“The Under-20s have done well as well, obviously, so I don’t think it’s a given that just because you’re playing in the Premier League you should definitely play in those groups.

“But I think he’s earned the right to get involved with the Under-20s and I think if he does well there then in due course he will be recognised in the Under-21s.

“But one step at a time and he’s going on very nicely at the moment.”

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