Southgate will not rush Young Lions

11 November 2013 08:16

England Under-21 head coach Gareth Southgate believes caution is required when it comes to considering fast-tracking some of his players into a World Cup squad.

Promising recent performances in the Barclays Premier League from the likes of West Ham's Ravel Morrison, West Brom's Saido Berahino and Southampton's Luke Shaw have seen them touted as potential contenders to go to Brazil.

However, Southgate believes it may not only be detrimental to their careers but would also be disrespectful to some of the more experienced players who helped Roy Hodgson's side qualify.

"Of course anyone could (make the World Cup squad)," said Southgate.

"Myself and Roy have had discussions about it but we are talking about our squad predominantly being very inexperienced players.

"Some of the guys being talked about have played half a dozen to a dozen Premier League games.

"To elevate them into the senior squad you have to be pretty sure they will get a game - and secondly, you can't just dismiss experienced players who got us to the finals.

"It would be a harsh manager who said, 'Thanks for all your help but I'm not taking you to one of the biggest festivals of all time in Brazil'.

"I don't see the rush with our younger ones. They have ability but not the experience and there is a long way to go for them.

"If they get in, brilliant, that is what they want, but we wouldn't want it to be that they are in for six months and then it affects their long-term progression.

"We've managed that process very carefully up to now. Raheem (Sterling) has been in and out, Wilfried (Zaha) has been in and out, Ross Barkley has stayed with the senior squad and might get a start this time around.

"Players have been able to train with the seniors, which has been great as they know Roy is watching, and he has been to several of our games so the links are really tight and the opportunity is there.

"But I think collectively we have to be very careful about as and when we put them in."

The priority for Southgate's squad has to be the Euro 2015 qualifiers against Finland and San Marino.

Two victories for the group leaders would go a long way to securing qualification and Southgate believes they have the talent to more than make amends for a disappointing display at the championships in Israel in the summer.

"If you are looking at talent at this age you have also got the likes of Phil Jones, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ross Barkley, and that is a lot of strength if you look at the squad now," Southgate added.

"That is really pleasing and I've also seen what's coming through with the under-19s and under-17s, so I think we have players who can play and who want to improve and continue to learn.

"The key now is the understanding of match tactics and match scenarios and understanding each others' strengths and weaknesses and moulding that into a team.

"We are focusing a lot on creative play but we have to appreciate for those players to play, you need other players around them and you can't ignore the good work our defenders do.

"Those guys may grab the headlines but we are forming a collective and it is pleasing to see how they are coming together."

Source: PA