Football

England U21s undermined by senior team

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England U21s' thumping 6-0 victory over their Scottish counterparts at Bramall Lane earlier this week brought a sense of welcome relief after a treacherous summer for the young Three Lions squad.

But despite the emphatic scoreline, such a win against vastly inferior opposition should not be allowed to mask the fundamental failings that saw England subjected to ridicule after failing to progress past the group stage of the European Championships in Israel this summer. 

After only managing to muster one goal in three consecutive defeats against Italy, Norway and the hosts themselves, manager Stuart Pearce was lambasted by certain sections of the media and forced to vacate the role he had held since 2007 following the FA's decision not to renew his expiring contract. 

This week, in a series of refreshingly honest interviews, Pearce has outlined his desire for the introduction of a controversial proposal that would see England players ineligible to be selected for the senior squad until they are too old to be considered for U21 duty. 

Such an action could be introduced with the primary aim of putting an end to the fast-tracking of young talent and also to ensure that the future U21 boss is able to fully utilise the nation's talent pool, thereby hopefully avoiding any more embarrassing failures of the kind that England experienced back in June. 

While such a seemingly drastic suggestion is not likely to prove particularly popular, it is certainly not without its merits. 

Firstly, it would surely help to develop a welcome sense of camaraderie, familiarity and, perhaps most importantly, a shared ethos that is so obviously evident within the age groups of leading football nations such as Spain.

The Spanish have been hugely successful at a variety of different levels due to their insistence on persisting with a fluid system that isn't simply restricted to their senior squad.  

If England were to attempt to replicate such an admirable system and ensure each player stays within their age range, they could realistically hope to achieve success at youth levels that such talents could then carry with them on into the senior team. After all, success undoubtedly breeds confidence. 

Ultimately, England's fast-tracking of young talent is undermining youth competition. 

What exactly is the point of competing in an U21 tournament if the best players in that particular age range are not permitted to take part? 

Some players seem to view youth international duty as little more a hinderance to their burgeoning careers and such a toxic attitude must be remedied. 

There are, of course, notable exceptions to this rule that could render it simply impossible to implement. 

Jack Wilshere, for example, is a player who still retains eligibility for the U21s but whose exclusion from the senior squad when fit would be an outright travesty and hugely detrimental to Roy Hodgson's squad. 

While I can't wholly endorse Pearce's suggestions, it is certainly something that is strongly worth considering not only for the good of the U21s themselves, but also for the future of the senior side. 

 

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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