Release deal delights Brooking

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Sir Trevor Brooking insists England's senior clubs have taken the correct option in allowing their youngsters to play in this month's European Under-19 Championships.

Despite suggestions that Tottenham would not release their quartet of players and fears that others might follow, coach Noel Blake was able to name a near full-strength squad for the event in Normandy.

"It's the best against the best and that has got to be better than a few pre-season games," said Brooking.

It has worked out perfectly for Brooking, the Football Association's youth development officer, who has made it a crusade to champion the need for improvement in youth coaching, both before and after England's demise in South Africa.

He added: "To be fair to the clubs, the timing of the tournament is a bit tricky but it really is the only slot available to UEFA.

"Any later in the season and the player release issue would be just as hard. I think the clubs appreciate that now."

The progress of Germany at the World Cup has concentrated minds given the emergence of Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Sami Khedira and Manuel Neuer, who are now starring for the senior side after first catching the eye at youth-team level.

"These tournaments are the only way to really benchmark our players," said Brooking.

"There really is no substitute for tournament football.

"If you look at the recent winners of this tournament you will see that Spain, France, Portugal and Germany are the big four, so there is a link to what happens in the seniors."

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