Roy Hodgson speaks about England's next generation with Sir Clive Woodward on Sky Sports
By Nicholas Veevers
Roy Hodgson admits he’s constantly keeping an eye on England’s younger generation, as he looks to the future for the Three Lions.
The England manager has selected the likes of Tom Cleverley, Raheem Sterling, Jonjo Shelvey and Wilfried Zaha in recent months after seeing their progress on the Premier League stage and with the Under-21s.
And Hodgson tries to make sure that he’s aware of younger players coming through at clubs via his relationships with the managers concerned.
Speaking to former England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward on the Sporting Heroes show for Sky Sports, Hodgson said: “Certainly, whenever I speak to the managers, I’m interested to hear what they think about the players who are coming through.
“It is pretty obvious if you are speaking to Brendan Rogers at Liverpool, you don’t need to ask about Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher or players that you know so well.
“But it is interesting to hear what he thinks about people like Raheem Sterling or Andre Wisdom, players that you know of and have even worked with in the case of those two, who’ve matured and done so much better.”
With 2013 promising to be a big year for England’s development teams, Hodgson knows how important it is to have that co-operation with clubs regarding the international experiences their young players can have.
The Under-21s have Euro Finals in Israel in June and then the U20s head to the World Cup in Turkey the following month.
There is also potential for both the U17s and U19s to reach their own Euro Finals, with Elite Qualifiers taking place in March and May respectively so there are plenty of opportunities for England’s best young players to get vital international experience.
And Hodgson knows from his own time as a club boss that international football isn’t something which managers are always keen to push onto their players so he has been pleasantly surprised at the co-operation he has received.
That came as a surprise to Woodward whose experience in rugby is that international level is the pinnacle for both clubs and players.
“I’m interested to hear how it is in rugby,” added Hodgson.
“But at the younger levels of football, we have tournaments with U17s and U19s who are just about getting their feet under the table at professional level, and they don’t go to major tournaments to represent England because the club would prefer them to go on a training camp.
“I’m not so sure that the club managers, especially at the very top level, would be pushing their players that hard into international duty.
“They have so many games and I think they sometimes see the international matches as a further burden. I’m very conscious of that.
“I am also conscious of the fact that if in certain matches, I can maybe give a player a rest because he is playing a lot of Champions League football, I’d try to do so.
“But I must say since taking the job I’ve been quite surprised how keen people are to play for England.”
You can watch the full interview on Sporting Heroes, at 9pm, Christmas Day on Sky Sports HD 2.