Dan Ashworth: Premier League can help Young Lions thrive

Friday 12 Sep 2014
Dan Ashworth addresses the media alongside Gareth Southgate

Dan Ashworth says the Premier League’s status as the best league in the world should work as an advantage to the future success of young English players.

The FA’s director of elite development was cheered by the past week’s results, with seven victories for England U18s, U20s, and U21s, while the U19s recorded an impressive draw in Germany.

Ashworth admits that opportunities in the Premier League can be hard to come by, but that competition combined with frequent opportunities in international youth teams will serve the England senior team well in the long run.

The former West Bromwich Albion man said: “I’ve said before the Premier League is the best league in the world, and I’ve been on the other side of the fence as a technical director and the clubs want to make sure they stay in the league or can achieve their targets for that season.

“One of the bad things with the Premier League is that they’re able to afford a squad of 25 senior internationals and you can’t blame them for doing that.

Saido Berahino is congratulated by Jake Forster-Caskey

England Under-21s won two matches over the past 10 days

“But I’d like to flip that on its head and look at it the other way and what we’ve got to do as a nation through the great work with the Elite Player Performance Plan, which is only two years in, and through a comprehensive coach education programme is make our own players that good that the first team managers have to pick them, want to pick them and will put them in that squad.

He added: “Let’s utilise the fact that our clubs our wealthy and invest in youth development and coach education and make them good enough for first teams.

“We’ve already got a few that are in the senior team who have broken through in to the senior team and are in top, top club teams and so it is definitely possible.

“It’s harder than it was 15 years ago, but we need to raise the bar.”

Ashworth joined The FA in September 2012 and two years into his post, feels encouraged by recent events.

He said: “I know we’ve been criticised in the past for saying it but youth development is a longer process

“It’s not a quick fix to change the fundamentals of coaching and some of the things the younger development teams do.

“You might not see results straight away, but certainly some of the recent performances in the younger age groups I’ve been really pleased with and I see some real positive signs.”

By James Callow Content manager