Midfield star ready for action as England U20s prepare to begin World Cup campaign against Argentina
CLUB versus country has been a debate raging for a number of years now – but there was only ever going to be one winner for Bournemouth’s Lewis Cook.
The 20-year-old midfielder is currently with the England squad in South Korea as they prepare to kick-off the Under-20s World Cup against Argentina on Saturday.
His inclusion in the squad caps off a rollercoaster year for the young Yorkshireman.
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Cook burst onto the scene with Leeds United two seasons ago and earned a big-money move, which could rise to £10million, to the Premier League side last summer.
However, a series of injuries blighted his first campaign on the south coast before his return to the side in April.
When the World Cup call came few would have forgiven Cook for pulling out in order to play for the Cherries in their final game of the season against Leicester City.
But the lure of a boyhood dream proved too strong, and luckily for him he has a manager in Eddie Howe who understands how important it will be for his development.
Cook explained: “It was a difficult decision for me to miss the last game but I just thought ‘it’s the World Cup and it’s every boy’s dream’, so I couldn’t really say no to that.
“Every time you pull the shirt on it is a dream and you can never take that for granted. So you have to appreciate every moment.
“Playing different nationalities, improving my knowledge and learning different styles of play, I think we can all learn a lot in this tournament and do well.”
Cook continued: “It’s been a difficult season for me personally.
“There has been a lot of learning and improvement in training but it was good to get games towards the end of season.
“As I say, it was a different season but me and the gaffer worked on a lot of things and I feel like I’ve improved and fitted in when I played the last few games. That hard work has paid off.”
Cook and his team-mates face a tough start on their quest for world domination when they take on the record six-time winners in their opener.
Following that mouth-watering clash, they face Guinea and then the hosts South Korea in a tough-looking Group A.
But Cook and his colleagues have already tasted that winning feeling with England.
He and six other members of the squad were part of the side that lifted the U17 European Championship back in 2014.
And he believes that experience has given the Three Lions the belief they can go all the way in the Far East.
Cook said: “I think we can. We’ve shown that before in tournaments and the strength in-depth within this squad is great.
“We have individuals that can change games in an instant and as a team we are strong and we always fight until the end.
Fifa U20 World Cup South Korea 2017
Sat May 20 – Argentina vs England
Tue May 23 – England vs Guinea
Fri May 26 – England vs South Korea
“At lot of us have been together since the start, since the Under-16s in the Victory Shield. We are a really close group and do everything together.
“We have played a lot of top nations and held our own, so I don’t see why we can’t do the same again and showcase our squad’s ability and get the win.”
England’s first match against Argentina will be shown live on Eurosport at 8.30am on Saturday. They will then face Guinea three days later before playing South Korea in their final group match next Friday.