Pointless friendlies or competitive games - What's better for England's youngsters?

England Crowd

England could take a leaf out of Spain’s book prioritising the Under-21 European Championship over this summer’s friendly games.

Spain announced their Under-21 squad for the tournament earlier in the week which included some surprising names such as David De Gea of Manchester United, Isco of Malaga and Cristian Tello of Barcelona.

All three of those players have been on the fringes of the Spanish national side and it wouldn’t have been a major surprise had they been included in the senior squad to play Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland next month.

It shows just how seriously the Spanish are taking that Under-21 tournament, creating a contrast between their mentality and England’s mentality ahead of the tournament.

England have several players included in the senior squad who could all represent the Under-21 team and do a fantastic job; Tom Cleverley, Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck, Jack Rodwell, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and several others.

That would ultimately give England and Stuart Pearce a much better chance of winning the tournament in Israel, because of the quality and greater experience which will be injected into the side.

It’s a complete contrast in mentality although England’s position in relation to the World Cup qualifiers is different to Spain’s, which could be one of the reasons Roy Hodgson hasn’t allowed this to happen.

Spain are top of their group ahead of France and look relatively comfortable while England are staring at the possibility of a play-off place as they chase Montenegro at the top of their group.

Hodgson has always been a very shrewd manager and he’s already started planning for the crucial qualifiers which England face this autumn.

However, the odds are stacked heavily in England’s favour ahead of those qualifiers because they play three of them in front of home support and travel away on just one occasion.

One of the reasons Spain have been so successful in the recent past is because they have committed to giving all of their national sides the best possible chance of being competitive and winning tournaments.

They have done this by making their best players available at all levels when they have not been unnecessarily required elsewhere.

What I’m getting at is there’s no point in Jack Rodwell sitting on the bench for two games against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil, when he could be getting competitive games under his belt in Israel.

Surely that is better preparation for the younger players ahead of the World Cup qualifiers, which could see Hodgson sacked if England don’t make it to the tournament in Brazil next year.

What do you think? Are England missing a trick?

image: © philosophy football

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