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'England youth needs action plan'

16 July 2017 National Sport


Last Updated: 16/07/17 11:51am

Keith Downing's U19 side beat Portugal 2-1 in the final on Saturday

Keith Downing’s U19 side beat Portugal 2-1 in the final on Saturday

England U19s manager Keith Downing has called for an action plan to ensure more young players get first-team football.

Downing led the U19s to European Championship glory on Saturday as his side beat , and he believes the governing bodies need to meet to improve the number of home-grown players.

Twelve of the 17 players in the squad who won the tournament in Georgia are at Premier League clubs, including Chelsea’s Dujon Sterling and Manchester City striker Lukas Nmecha.

And Downing said if the young players are good enough, they need to be given opportunities.

He told : “The senior managers will decide if they are capable of playing at that level.

The England team celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final

The England team celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final

The England team celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final

“But we need to have collaboration between the FA, the Football League and Premier League to see where we can take this depth of talent at youth level and what exposure what we can give them.

“Whether that is a loan or playing in their first teams. There is encouragement that across Europe we have players capable of playing at the top stage.

“They have to be good enough but equally we have to look at it as a whole collaboration of all associations to come to a conclusion.

Dujon Sterling of England and Joao Filipe of Portugal battle for the ball

Dujon Sterling of England and Joao Filipe of Portugal battle for the ball

Dujon Sterling of England and Joao Filipe of Portugal battle for the ball

“You can’t have 33 per cent only English players in the Premier League, we have to try to get that a little bit higher.”

The win for the U19s marks a successful period for English football with the Under-20 squad lifting the World Cup last month and the Under-21s side winning the Toulon tournament last May.

And Downing believes it is down to the FA strategy of all the English national sides playing in a similar style.

“There is consistency across all development teams both in terms of culture and environment and playing style.

“There is a joined up pathway through the age groups, everyone is aligned to the philosophy of how we want to play.

“Leading up to Gareth [Southgate] who has had experience of that development stage as well.”


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