The Toulon Tournament will provide valuable international exposure to a unique group of Young Lions this summer.
That’s the opinion of Matt Crocker, The FA’s head of development team coaching, as a host of England sides gear up for an unprecedented summer of tournaments.
- 29 May - 10 June 2017
- Angola v England: Monday 29 May, Stade de Lattre, Aubagne
- Cuba v England: Thursday 1 June, Stade d'Honneur, Salon de Provence
- Japan v England: Sunday 4 June, Stade de Lattre, Aubagne
Toulon, now formally named the Maurice Revello Tournament, is traditionally a competition for either England’s U21 or U20 groups.
As current holders, England will head to the 12-team tournament later this month to defend their title.
However, with the U19s, U20s and U21s all in competitive tournament action this summer, head coach Neil Dewsnip will travel to France with a squad of mixed ages.
Predominantly an U18s group, the Young Lions are also likely to include a selection of older players who have been on the fringes of their respective national squads or are new to the system.
And Crocker sees that as an exciting opportunity for a set of players who wouldn’t usually be exposed to the challenges that Toulon presents
“The Toulon Tournament is something we've always covered and got massive value from in terms of player development and international exposure,” he said.
“Obviously with us being the current holders from the U21s last season, we felt it would be really valuable to give one of the younger age groups that experience. It will be our U18s and maybe some development players who have sat on our long lists across other age groups, or have been identified more recently but have made a significant impact in club football.
“It's a good development opportunity that will hopefully prepare those players for international tournaments next season.”
Gareth Southgate, then U21 head coach, guided England to their fifth Toulon Tournament title last summer. For the 45th edition of the well-respected competition, Dewsnip’s side have been placed in a group with Angola, Cuba and Japan.
Crocker continued: “It's a prestigious tournament with a competitive environment that offers different media exposure, a quick turnaround of games, foreign referees and world opposition that you wouldn't necessarily normally face.
“All of those things give the tournament a really unique feel and it gives our players the opportunity to experience those things more than they would have done than if we would have carried on with the European format.
“From our point of view, it's an opportunity to bring in some players who have caught the eye in club football and give them a unique international experience within our elite environment.”