No regrets over squad selection for Gareth Southgate

Thursday 25 Jun 2015
Gareth Southgate and his squad in Czech Republic

Gareth Southgate says he has no regrets over his England Under-21s squad selection for the European Championships.

The Three Lions missed out on a semi-final spot on Wednesday evening when a 3-1 defeat to Italy ended their campaign in Czech Republic.

With England senior regulars such as Raheem Sterling, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ross Barkley and Phil Jones eligible but excluded, Southgate admits it is something which will be assessed.

But he believes it was the right decision, with senior experience still prevalent in the squad in the shape of Harry Kane, John Stones, Calum Chambers and Saido Berahino, who have all been involved in Roy Hodgson's senior squad.

A dejected Jack Butland after England

England Under-21s to reach the semi-finals after losing 3-1 against Italy

“It’s a fair question and something we’ll need to look at as a group of national coaches," said Southgate.

“I still think that with Wilshere, Jones, Oxlade-Chamberlain, it was the right decision.

“They’d never kicked a ball with any of this group and have had senior tournament experience.

"The only player in this tournament that goes against that debate is [Portugal's William] Carvalho, everybody else has got the route we had.

"Carvalho had played in the qualifiers for Portugal, so that’s why he came back into the group.

“For his development, would it have been a good experience? I think an U21s final is a high quality field, but our policy, generally, I am comfortable with because we’ve got to expose this next group now.


Gareth Southgate says Portugal's William Carvalho (R) is the only player at the finals with senior tournament experience

“We brought five players back that had been with the seniors, but unfortunately we lost three of them, Luke [Shaw] and Saido [Berahino] and then [John] Stones for the first two games.

“If we’d had those three, the policy of bringing players from the seniors would have been more profitable perhaps."

The head coach believes it is an issue that may become less of a talking point in the future.

He pointed to a lack of depth in the senior talent pool, which has meant Hodgson had to dip into the younger age teams.

And once a player has become an established member of the senior squad, Southgate prefers to focus on the next generation. 

“Once a player has gone up, it’s hard to bring them back but we have made strides with that," he added. 

"Luke came back for the play-off games and Saido, Harry and Stonesy came back for this and their approach has been first class.

“It should become harder to get into the seniors and then you start to get more depth of talent in the younger age groups”

Gareth Southgate 

“In the last couple of years, we’ve been short of depth in the 26 and 27-year-olds and Roy understandably has gone the route of saying that some of the older players are never going to be good enough.

"So he’d rather give the younger ones the experience early so there's valid reasons for doing that.

"The way Spain and Germany have been, there’s the depth in the senior team and the younger ones can’t get up so they know where they’re at and that progression is going to take time.

“I would hope over the next few years that with our next group of U21s, it should become harder to get into the seniors and then you start to get more depth of talent in the younger age groups.

“It’s got to be a really competitive field to move on."

And with nine of this summer's squad still eligible for the next U21s campaign which begins in  September, the process starts again soon.

By Nicholas Veevers