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Conor Gallagher on England impact, Hudson-Odoi injury and why Chelsea midfielder has kicked on

Conor Gallagher says belief remains high in the England Under-21 camp ahead of this evening’s game against Croatia, with the Chelsea midfielder expected to start a match in which Aidy Boothroyd’s team must win by at least two goals and hope results elsewhere go their way to avoid crashing out of the European Championship.

Progression will be no mean feat considering England’s only shot on target in defeats to Switzerland and Portugal came from a direct free kick.

Already qualified Portugal must win to give England any chance and are set to rest some key players in their game against the Swiss, who will guarantee a quarter-final spot with a draw should Croatia fail to win.

Gallagher, who is on loan at West Bromwich Albion, said England were too conservative in their opening games and is vowing to inject additional tempo should he be given a starting role.

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“We’ll do everything we can,” he said. “We need to score more than one goal, so of course we need to do more to create chances and be confident and have belief in each other. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that.”

England’s task has become even more daunting with Callum Hudson-Odoi returning to Chelsea because of a shoulder injury, Emile Smith Rowe likely absent and four other players entering the game with other ailments.

Gallagher considers his clubmate’s absence a blow but insists there remains enough firepower in the squad to overcome the odds.

“Callum is a big miss, he’s a top player,” the midfielder said. “Everyone knows what he can do and it is a shame he’s not able to play. But if you look around the squad you’ve got talent everywhere who can go and win a game for us. Individuals but collectively that is the most important thing.

“It is not as though we’re looking at one man. Callum is obviously a top player, one of our best, but if the…

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