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England U21 v Portugal U21: Why Kane, Sterling, Wilshere and co should ALL be at the U21 Euros

18 Jun | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
England U21 v Portugal U21: Why Kane, Sterling, Wilshere and co should ALL be at the U21 Euros

Spurs aren’t happy that Kane is going, but to really help the England senior team all the top eligible players should be there

There are certain unmistakable sounds of summer: ice cream vans incessantly jingling, lawn mowers resuming their duties, flip flops snapping along the pavement, and of course, a club vs country row.

This year’s protagonist is Harry Kane. The young Tottenham star has enjoyed his break-through season, notching 31 goals as he established himself as the first name on the Spurs team sheet.

He combined his club duties with leading the line for Gareth Southgate’s England Under-21 team, and helping them qualify for this summer’s European Championship.

Cue club vs country row.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is known to have made it clear he did not want Kane to be picked for the tournament, and he was not alone.

After England’s friendly draw with Italy in March, Kenny Dalglish wrote in the Daily Mirror that Kane should not be going to the tournament.

“Playing Under-21 football this summer won’t help him. It will just tire him out,” he said.

“The question is, what is the most important thing – this summer’s Under-21 Euros or next summer’s European Championship for the seniors?”

“Some people say England need to take their best players to youth tournaments to try to win them and build a winning culture.

“To those people I would say exactly what England U21s manager Gareth Southgate says about what his job is – to develop players for the full team.”

Dalglish is right about that – but that is precisely why Kane should be going.

Obviously the priority is getting the senior team to win something, but the U21s should be playing a key role in that process – it shouldn’t be an either/or situation.

Let’s take a look at the most recent winners of a major tournament: Germany.

England U21s played the German team in the European Championship final in 2009. The Germans ran out 4-0 winners over Stuart Pearce’s side.

Exactly a year on, four of the players that beat the England U21s were in the senior German team that tore Fabio Capello’s side apart in the last 16 tie of the World Cup in South Africa. Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil had developed together in the junior category and moved on together to the senior squad.

And I don’t remember those four looking too tired as they left Gareth Barry, John Terry and Co in their dust time and again in Bloemfontein.

Guess how many England players made it from the 2009 U21s final into the 2010 team? One. Lonely old James Milner.

That talented Germany team were narrowly beaten 1-0 by winners Spain in the semis, but four years later they went and won the thing in Brazil. This time with five 2009 final graduates in the side (it would have been six, but for an injury to Sami Khedira).

Guess how many of England’s players from that 2009 game played in any of their three games in Brazil? Again: one. Again, lonely old James Milner. And that was only in the dead rubber 0-0 with Costa Rica.

That German U21 team created for the 2009 tournament developed together and went on to form the core of the team that won one World Cup and came close to winning another.

That is exactly how the U21s set-up should work.

So Gareth Southgate, Roy Hodgson and the entire England set-up have got it wrong – but not because they are taking Kane to the U21 Euros, but because they aren’t also taking Jack Wilshere, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkely, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw as well.

4/1 – England to win the U21 European Championship

England U21 v Portugal U21 betting

READ Darren Lewis: My players to watch the U21 Euros > >