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Euro 2024: Adam Wharton ‘more than ready’ to start for England against Serbia

Crystal Palace midfielder, 20, says he'll answer the call if Gareth Southgate picks him against Serbia on Sunday

Gareth Southgate of England

Adam Wharton says he is ‘more than ready’ to start for England in their Euro 2024 opener against Serbia, if Gareth Southgate calls on him.

The 20-year-old Crystal Palace midfielder only made his England under-21 debut in March after a switch from Championship Blackburn to Selhurst Park in January.

However his form in the latter stages of the season saw him named in England’s provisional squad for the European Championships in Germany, and he made an encouraging international debut in a 30-minute cameo against Bosnia at Newcastle in England’s penultimate warm-up game.

Speaking at England’s press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Wharton admitted it was ‘a surreal feeling’ to be called up, adding: “Honestly I wasn’t expecting it.

“Obviously I have only just gone into the Premier League it was more sort of a bonus if I did get in but I am absolutely delighted. I get to do what I love on the top stage – you can’t beat it.

“It’s hard really. Just a dream come true. Every kid who grows up playing football wants to play in the Premier League, play for their country. I got to play for team I supported to begin with, really enjoyed that and then it has continued since moving to the Premier League, now here so it’s all been very fast but I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

He insisted he was taking it all in his stride, adding: “I don’t really think about it too much – it’s more football for me. It has gone really fast, I have really enjoyed the last six months and I just want to keep playing, getting better – I’m absolutely delighted.”

With England’s Group C opener against Serbia looming on Sunday evening, there has been a growing clamour for Wharton to start alongside Declan Rice in central midfield.

Wharton insisted: “The manager picks the team. Obviously there are some unbelievable players. If I am chosen to play I am more than ready but whoever is on pitch I’m sure will step up perform and help the team get the result we want.”

Wharton revealed as one of the young guns in the party he had been speaking to senior members of the squad, including Rice, and picking up some things and ‘learning off everyone.’

“There are still players that’ve been in the team for long time so a mixture which is always good but some top young players in the team so I think it’s good to have that little mix. If you’re good enough you’re old enough,” he added.

Wharton claimed ‘there’s always room for improvement’ after his impressive debut, adding: “It’s the small details at this level that make such a difference. The little things.”

He also revealed Southgate had some advice for him, adding: “He told me to just keep going and that’s all I can do. Try my hardest to impress throughout the week and when I’m given an opportunity.”

Picture of Alex Hoad

Alex Hoad

Alex has more than 15 years' experience in sports journalism and has reported on multiple Olympics, World Cups and European Championships in additional to Champions League, Europa League and domestic football.