Tammy Abraham’s promotion to the England team has left former room-mate Demarai Gray dreaming of the World Cup.
Striker Abraham, midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek and defender Joe Gomez were all called into the senior squad for the first time for the friendly games against Germany and Brazil.
The trio’s elevation, along with previous Under-21 team-mates Harry Winks, Nathaniel Chalobah and Nathan Redmond in recent squads, has led to speculation over who might be next.
Top of that list is Leicester winger Gray, who has been a central figure for the Under-21s and rejuvenated at the King Power Stadium under new manager Claude Puel.
The 21-year-old has made no secret of his ambitions to play for the senior team sooner rather than later.
He told Press Association Sport: “Whether I think I should be here or there, it’s about staying persistent and consistent and having a good attitude and you will be rewarded.
“You see Tammy, Ruben and Joe, that’s what they’ve done. Me and Tammy used to be room-mates and speak about getting the call-up. It’s crazy because we had those conversations and now he’s there. That was only last time.
“I think it should make us more confident and more hungry. You know you’ve got a senior manager that’s willing to pick young players.
“I’m just excited to see what happens in the two senior games now, to see what opportunities they get. If any of the three do play, I’ll be happy for them.”
England manager Gareth Southgate has spoken of wanting to give young players a chance, and Gray hopes that might mean places are up for grabs at next year’s World Cup finals in Russia.
He said: “After seeing my former Under-21 mates (called up), it’s definitely something you can think about and have in the back of your mind.
“I won’t think about it too much. I just think now that if I keep doing well at my club, remain consistent, I can put myself in the manager’s head. Then it’s his decision. If that did ever happen it would be a dream come true.”
Gray had a difficult beginning to the season, starting only one of Leicester’s first eight Premier League games under Craig Shakespeare.
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But Puel clearly sees the winger as a big asset and named him in the starting line-up for his first two matches, with Gray scoring in the win over Everton.
“I’ve got off to a good start but it’s only the start; two games, two weeks,” said Gray. “It’s about developing and I think, with the manager we’ve got in now, he’s going to help me and hopefully over the months you can see me grow as a player.”
Gray’s England Under-21s manager Aidy Boothroyd has not had any doubts about his value to the team, and will hope he can prove an attacking threat again in Friday’s European Championship qualifier in Ukraine.
Boothroyd believes a senior call-up could be in the pipeline, saying: “He’s been brilliant for me personally, he’s been brilliant for the Under-21s.
“He’s created goals, he’s scored goals, and the bits of his game he needs to work at, he’s willing to work at them, and that for me shows that if he keeps doing what he’s doing and continues his good work on and off the pitch then I’m sure he could be one of the next ones in.”