Captain Laura Bassett believes the new Women's U21 team will provide a tremendous and lasting benefit.
The newly formed England Under-21 team will provide the national set-up and its players with a tremendous and lasting benefit, says Birmingham City’s former Under-19 international Laura Bassett.
The 20 year-old Blues captain, who has been part of the senior England squad for 18 months but has made only three substitute appearances, was one of 26 players who took part in the first Under-21 training camp at Lilleshall last month.
Now Bassett has been selected in the 18-player squad which will compete against several already well-established international Under-21 teams at the Nordic Tournament in Iceland during July.
She said: "Starting an Under-21 side was a great idea and it will definitely help players like me, who have played a lot of international football at youth level but haven’t had the chance to get much experience in the senior side.
"In the past a lot of players have faded from the international scene after impressing in the Under-17’s and Under-19’s, so the Under-21 side can fill the gap between youth and senior football and keep players developing at the top level.
"One of the good things about international Under-21 football is that you’re allowed a couple of over-age players in the team, so at our first training camp we had players ranging from 16 years of age to 24.
"The camp went really well – most of the girls knew each other from either being in England youth teams or playing against each other in League football, so everyone felt very comfortable and it was an enjoyable and constructive few days.
"After that we were all hoping to get a letter telling us we’d been picked in the squad for the tournament in Iceland. Only 18 of the 26 who were at Lilleshall could be involved, and I’m delighted to say I was one of the lucky ones."
As a completely new team it will be a tough task that England take on when, in what will be their first competitive action, they face Under-21 sides from some of the strongest women’s footballing nations in the world.
FIFA’s top three ranked nations - Germany, America and Sweden - will all be represented at the eight-team tournament, which is set to be played in Iceland during July 23rd-29th.
England will meet Sweden, Iceland and Denmark in Group A and then, depending on their final group placing, will play one of the Group B sides – USA, Germany, Norway and Finland.
Bassett said: "I’m really look forward to taking part in the tournament – it will be very hard against some very good teams, but we’ve got some top players in our squad and we certainly won’t be going to Iceland to make up the numbers."
England Women Under-21 Squad - Nordic Tournament