England may be facing an uphill task to qualify for the UEFA European Under-17 Championship semi-finals, but captain Nathaniel Chalobah is not about to start shirking his responsibilities.
Suspended for England's opening Group A fixture – a 2-2 draw against France – Chalobah returned to the starting lineup for Friday's 2-0 defeat by Denmark. With a solitary point to their name, John Peacock's side know they almost certainly have to beat hosts Serbia on Monday if their title defence is to extend beyond the group stage. Chalobah, the sole survivor of the team which triumphed in Liechtenstein last year, knows his pedigree could prove crucial.
"It's helped me a lot because I know what it's like to be in the tournament and I know what the levels of expectations are," he told UEFA.com. "I just try and give as much information to the team as I can. [Peacock] wants me to keep the boys going because I had the experience last year. He wants me to stand out more, try and help the team and keep everyone going.
"As a captain I just try and help the team as much as I can. Being the most experience player, I try and give them my experiences of last year. I can put my hand up and say that Denmark wasn't my best performance so I can't say I led by example. I always try and keep the team going no matter what, though."
Such resilience is the hallmark of a senior professional who is proving particularly pivotal to Chalobah's development. Chelsea FC and senior England captain John Terry's rise through the ranks and ongoing advice is the perfect inspiration for club trainee Chalobah.
"At Chelsea we've got the likes of John Terry and David Luiz playing centre-back," he said. "I try and get as much experience as I can from them and learn a lot during training. I talk to [Terry] and he's always telling me to make sure I keep my head fixed on and try and focus as much as I can. He says that if I have the right attitude and mentality, I can go far. He's a good man, a good leader and a good captain and he's always talking to the young lads at the club."
Before returning to club duty, however, Chalobah's attentions are focused on dusting his team down in preparation for their decisive fixture against Serbia. "We're trying not to put pressure on ourselves but we just want to make sure we keep the same mentality that we've had throughout the tournament and put on a better performance," he said.
"The Danish team caught us on the break and we conceded two in the first 20 minutes. We started slowly but we're going to try and put our mistakes right next time. John's just said that it was a bad day at the office. He couldn't fault our effort in coming out and working so hard in the second half. He just wants a better start from us next time and hopefully we'll get the result that we want."
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