Football

FA seek mandatory player release

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Clubs could be forced to release players for England duty at all age levels under a new plan aimed at ensuring there is no repeat of the country's World Cup humiliation.

The Football Association have unveiled details of their Young Player Development Review, which was commissioned in the wake of England's abject defeat to Germany last summer.

It recommends a mandatory player release for all representative teams and has been approved at board and council level. Should it be ratified by the Professional Game Board in April, it could see clubs being unable to stop their youngsters being called up for international duty at Under-16 to Under-21 level.

"Naturally, you hope the professional game will ratify it," said FA director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking, who admitted compromises over the scheduling of matches might have to be made for the proposal to be implemented.

Mandatory player release is one of 25 recommendations made by the review, which also focuses on the grassroots game.

Reductions in pitch, goal and team sizes, and ensuring there is more emphasis on skills development than competitive action in the youngest age groups, are among the others.

Brooking said: "Unless they get an understanding of how to find a bit of space, pass it, and just move around and keep the ball, they'll never be able to get halfway to replicating the game they see on TV at present.

"The skill base, you do have to have a certain level and, at the moment, a lot of youngsters haven't got anywhere near that."

The FA have looked closely at how other countries, especially Holland, Spain and Germany, develop their young players.

Brooking said of world and European champions Spain: "Every year, they're right there competing. The people who won the European Championship and the World Cup, they won titles at 17s, 19s and 21s, and that's what we want to look back on in five or 10 years' time."

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