DERBY, ENGLAND - Monday, November 28, 2016: Liverpool's Joe Gomez in action against Derby County during the FA Premier League 2 Under-23 match at Pride Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Why Joe Gomez opted out of England U21 duty at summer’s European Championship

Liverpool centre-back Joe Gomez decided against joining up with England at this summer’s European U21 Championship to preserve his fitness.

Gomez had returned to the Young Lions squad for the March international break, starting in the 4-0 victory over Denmark U21s in Randers.

That was the 20-year-old’s first appearance for Aidy Boothroyd’s side for 531 days, having suffered a nightmare ACL injury in October of 2015, while on duty with England.

Gomez’s injury issues have blighted his career at Liverpool so far, but the former Charlton Athletic defender is now determined to ensure he gets back on track.

According to the Liverpool Echo, Gomez opted out of contention after a “long conversation” with Boothroyd about the importance of recapturing his fitness.

This came despite Liverpool being willing to allow Gomez to join his youth counterparts in Poland.

The Reds’ No. 12 is facing a defining summer, as he attempts to prove to Jurgen Klopp that he is capable of returning to the first team on a full-time basis.

He made three appearances for the senior squad in 2016/17, all in the FA Cup, but largely turned out for the Liverpool U23s, with Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva preferred.

But with pre-season approaching, Gomez will be eager to impress Klopp and carve out a role on Merseyside.

KINGSTON-UPON-HULL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 4, 2017: Liverpool's Joe Gomez warms-up before the FA Premier League match against Hull City at the KCOM Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Huddersfield Town, Brighton & Hove Albion, Bournemouth and Newcastle United have all been touted as possible destinations for Gomez if he were to leave on loan.

But speaking earlier in June, the youngster outlined his intention to stay with the Reds and secure regular game time.

“Ideally I’d hope to get some more minutes and so on [next season],” he explained.

“But at the moment I’ve just got to focus on going into pre-season and getting the best start I can.

“We’ve got the tour and things, so I’ve got to aim to get off to a good start and then get some minutes as the season progresses.

“It was kind of disappointing for me last pre-season because I’d had the aim to make it on time for it because I know how important it is to get a good start in it.

“It’ll be nice to have a fresh start this pre-season and put the past behind me.”

Avoiding a busy tournament schedule to focus on his fitness is a wise decision from Gomez, who has not played regularly since Brendan Rodgers’ dismissal almost two years ago.

Marko Grujic is with the Serbia squad at the U21 Euros, however, while Emre Can is part of the German contingent at the Confederations Cup in Russia.

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