Folarin Balogun withdrawn from England U21s due to injury as tug-of-war with USMNT takes another turn
- Balogun selected by England U21s
- One of many U.S. dual-nationals
- Withdraws from squad through injury
WHAT HAPPENED? The in-form Reims forward has been subject of great debate over potentially joining up with the Stars and Stripes, being one of the USMNT's many dual-nationals. After being snubbed for Gareth Southgate's senior squad, Balogun posted a cryptic message on social media about "going where you're appreciated". He was eventually named among Lee Carsley's 26 players at U21 level, but England confirmed his withdrawal on Tuesday due to injury.
WHAT THEY SAID: "An update to Lee Carsley's Young Lions squad as Nathan Wood is called up, while Folarin Balogun and Jarrad Branthwaite withdraw through injury," a statement on Twitter read.
An update to Lee Carsley's #YoungLions squad as Nathan Wood is called up, while Folarin Balogun and Jarrad Branthwaite withdraw through injury.— England (@England) March 21, 2023
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Despite being snubbed over a similarly in-form Ivan Toney of Brentford, Balogun is one of the hottest prospects in Europe right now. Currently on loan from Premier League leaders Arsenal, the 21-year-old forward has 17 goals to his name in 28 matches so far this season. Being born in New York he is eligible to represent the USMNT at senior level, and has already been in contact with interim boss Anthony Hudson.
Given his form and the potential for an allegiance switch, news of his withdrawal will be welcomed by soccer fans across the U.S. However, with Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford recently withdrawing from Southgate's Three Lions squad, as well as Manchester City's Erling Haaland from Norway duty, it can't be ruled out that Balogun's knock is a serious one, especially given the condensed fixture schedule at club level.
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WHAT NEXT? Barring a dramatic, unexpected showing at either of the USMNT's Nations League matches against Granada or El Salvador later this week, Balogun will enjoy a well-earned break before being back in action for Reims away at Nantes on April 2.