England to head for Toulon Tournament

Tuesday 12 Nov 2013
England Under-21s Head Coach Gareth Southgate.

England Under-21s will compete in the annual Toulon U20s tournament next May, as Gareth Southgate continues to assess his squad options.

The Three Lions face a Euro qualifier against Wales on 19 May and Southgate will then take the younger members of his squad to southern France for the tournament a few days later.

And with top nations from around the world such as Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Japan, Ghana and France regularly taking part in Toulon, Southgate feels it will be a worthwhile experience for those concerned.

“It will be a brilliant opportunity for the players,” he said.

“It’s a tournament we haven’t taken part in for a number of years because possibly we've worried about release of players and clashing with other tournaments, but we certainly feel in the years when we don't have an Under-21 finals, it's worthwhile.”

England have previously won the Toulon title on four occasions and are still the third most successful nation in its hostory, behind France and Brazil.


“It was important, especially after I'd seen the first couple of games in this group, that we had a different challenge for those players.”

Gareth Southgate England U21s Head Coach


Yet the last time an England squad entered the tournament was back in 2005 and the final details of this year’s competition haven’t been confirmed just yet.

But Southgate believes it’s certainly something to look forward to, with eight nations invited for the competition, which is run independently of UEFA or any national association.
Southgate explained: “It looks like there'll be Chile, Mexico, either Brazil or Argentina, France and I believe, Ghana.

“It's a different sort of challenge, where we'll have it all on to try and control possession.

“The games come fairly quickly so it's an opportunity to give them all experience of a tournament.

“We might well lose a couple of games, or we may come through and go all the way, but either way, it'll be a really great experience for them.

“And I think they're ready for that kind of challenge as a group.”

In terms of his squad selection for the trip, Southgate will have to lose those players in his squad born in 1992 as it's classed as an U20 competition but those born in '93 and later will still be eligible for the competition.

And Southgate sees it as a good way to end the season before the team’s final Euro qualifiers in Lithuania and Moldova next September.

“It will be an Under-21 squad but we don't take the ‘92 birthdays,” he added.

“So we will play our qualifier with Wales at the end of the season, the Monday after The FA Cup final and then we go straight to Toulon from that.

“Dan [Ashworth] wants us to get tournament experience and by going, we've brought forward a qualifier when we might not have all of our players available, but I would rather take a long-term view.

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“We could have players in the Championship play-offs, for example, that wouldn’t be available for the qualifier with Wales.

“But I'd rather say we've got the experience of going to a tournament here and give the players the guaranteed experience of that.

“As a coach, I'll have to ride with that and the result against Wales but I thought it was important, especially after I'd seen the first couple of games in this group, that we had a different challenge for those players.”

And Southgate believes he will receive the backing of the clubs, as he has done so far since taking over the role.

“All of the clubs I've visited so far have been very positive about what we want to do,” he revealed.

“Because of the quality of the games that you're putting the players into, they see the value of that and we're finished by June - as it's during the last 10 days of May.

“Some of those lads might be on the fringes of the seniors, we don't know, but there's an understanding of what we want to do.

“I think the players want to come and be a part of it and that's key really, if the players are enjoying themselves and ready for it.”

By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels