Head Coach Brian Eastick reflects on his squad selection for Colombia.
FIFA U20 World Cup
29 July - 20 August 2011
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By Nicholas Veevers
England U20s Head Coach Brian Eastick
picked his squad for the FIFA U20 World Cup earlier this week and believes the whole experience of a trip to South America for such a big competition can only help all of the players in their development.
The Three Lions head to Colombia for the tournament in July, where they will face Korea DPR, Argentina and Mexico in their initial group stage before hopefully progressing to the knock-out stages.
However, Eastick has had an unenviable job in selecting his final 21-man squad
, with a number of players unavailable for selection for a variety of reasons.
“We knew that all of the players that we wanted to select weren't going to be available and there are a combination of reasons for that,” explained Eastick.
“There are one or two genuine injuries, some of the players who might have come travelled to Denmark with the Under-21s squad this summer and, unfortunately, we’ve had one or two clubs who have just refused to release players.
“So the squad is a little bit depleted, but I think the players that we have picked are all of decent quality and I think it’s going to be a fantastic experience for all of those that do travel.”
As a result, Eastick has taken the chance to pick a number of players from the younger age groups, who he feels will only benefit from the World Cup experience that this trip will provide.
“We’re taking some of the younger players who we think have got a good chance of progressing through our system in the next few years, from the U19s and U20s, into the Under-21s and then hopefully the Seniors,” he added.
“So there are a few of the younger development players in there, but it will be a tremendous experience for them to go to Colombia and play against some of the best players and teams in the world in front of some huge crowds in a completely different environment.
“They will all come back better players for that experience and I know that the staff are looking forward to it from a learning point of view as well."
England featured in the last U20 World Cup in Egypt in 2009, when Eastick was also in charge and two of the players picked for this competition had a taste of things there too, in the shape of Gary Gardner
and Alex Nimely
, who even got a goal to his name against Uzbekistan.
They now travel to this World Cup as two of the more experienced members of the squad and Eastick hopes they can add a little bit more know-how to his group in South America.
“I followed a similar pattern in Egypt, when we had many withdrawals from that trip mainly due to the timing of the tournament, so again we took a younger group then,” he said.
“Both Gary Gardner and Alex Nimely were three years young for that competition at the time so hopefully that experience in Egypt will put them in good stead for this trip.
“They’ll know what to expect to some extent and will be able to play more of a leading role in Colombia than they did in Egypt.”