Saturday, 11 June 2011

Why England should take their best players to the European Under 21 Tournament

England stars Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll have been omitted from England’s Under 21 squad. This has been the most controversial aspect of England’s Under 21’s preparation so far.

But it’s clear both men should have gone.

There are a number of benefits of participating in this tournament.

Firstly, the players will gain even more international experience. This is absolutely crucial. It means the players will gain further understanding and confidence in England’s tactics and strategy. The more decisive the understanding is, the better a player can perform on the senior international stage. England must capitalise on these opportunities.

Furthermore, playing in the U21 has many psychological benefits too. The players will develop mechanisms on how to how to deal with the pressures of playing various large international games within a short space of time.

However, not only this, the players will also develop a personal system to deal with the logistics of large tournaments. This will make the youngsters have relative experience of the football tournament environment. So some aspects of large tournaments will not be viewed as ‘new experiences’ for the youngsters.

The likes of Mesut Ozill, Sami Khedira, Thomas Muller are all examples of the benefits of participating in the Under 21 tournaments. All three players were crucial figures for Germany in the last World Cup. One could argue, their brilliant World Cup performances stemmed from the experience they developed and gained whilst participating in the U21 tournaments.

No one can deny the press and certain English clubs have over inflated the Under 21 selection debate. They have presented their ideas as if England are the only nation in the tournament taking relatively experienced youngsters to the games.

This is clearly incorrect. After all, Spain are set to take; Juan Manuel Mata, Sergio Busquets and Iker Munain. All of these players have featured heavily for their clubs this season. Yet, their clubs and the Spanish press are not making a massive fuss over the issue. One could argue they are solely considering the player’s development and looking to further improve the player. The same mentality can be found in Germany. The national team, in Germany holds far more value over club football and this is understood by the German clubs. But it seems with some of the English clubs they look to protect their own interests rather than the overall development of the player.

Furthermore, Christian Eriksen, 19, has played 47 games this season. While Jack Wilshere, also 19, has played 49 games. In the case of Eriksen its proof that Wilshere isn’t the only player who could go to the Under 21 tournament with a great number of games under their belt. Both players have clearly admitted they want to play in the tournament. Whereas, the two clubs hold different views. Ajax understands Eriksen’s desire to play and wish him the best. While, Arsenal have taken a hard line approach and are unwilling to see their player learn and develop their international game.

It’s incredibly frustrating for England in the long term, as they cannot maximise on the player’s international experience.

A common criticism of the summer tournaments is that the players are unable to get a complete rest. Thus resulting in the possibility of the player burning themselves out or getting injured. This is agreeable. But every year, no matter who the player is, certain English clubs continuously complain. If the player is 26, the club will be angry if the player gets injured. But at the end of the day, it’s a foreseen consequence of international football. The players are aware of this risk too. But they want to represent their country and play football at the highest level.

The clubs need to respect the players’ wishes. After all, they are doing this because they have a passion for the game and their country. This should be encouraged and credited, not hindered.

One must remember, letting these talented youngsters play will not only benefit their clubs, it will benefit a nation.

Things you may like to read

England’s new 4-3-3 system, the platform for English success? -

Why Emile Heskey’s Premier League days should be all but over -

Why Kevin Davies should be in contention for the England squad -

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