Youth Teams
Youth Teams

U20s boss Keith Downing pleased to see increase in Young Lions heading overseas

Friday 01 Sep 2017
Keith Downing was pleased with his team's second-half performance in the 3-0 win over the Netherlands

Keith Downing believes that this summer’s trend of young English players heading abroad can only benefit the Three Lions.

The England U20s head coach saw his team beat the Netherlands by 3-0 in Telford on Thursday evening, with three players in his squad now learning their craft overseas.

England 3-0 Netherlands
  • International U20 Match
  • Thursday 31 August 2017
  • New Bucks Head Stadium, AFC Telford

Chris Willock, who left Arsenal for Portuguese giants Benfica this summer, was among the pick of the performers at the New Bucks Head Stadium where goals from Marcus Edwards, Stephy Mavididi and Darnell Johnson proved enough.

And with striker Kaylen Hinds also leaving Arsenal for German outfit Wolfsburg and winger Isaac Buckley-Ricketts currently on loan with FC Twente from Manchester City, Downing has been left impressed by the attitude shown in order to try and fulfil their first-team ambitions.

"These boys are now finding different pathways,” said Downing, whose side will now travel to Switzerland for their second game of international week on Monday.

"Chris is now at Benfica and plying his trade there and we have Isaac Buckley-Ricketts at FC Twente and Kaylen Hinds at Wolfsburg, so some of our players are now playing in European football.

"It can only benefit them, they're playing with and against top players against different cultures and philosophies over there.

"I think they know it gives them a big maturity when they come back to play for England, you can see them growing up, even from just a few months ago.

"It's really useful and it's interesting to speak to them to see how they're coping as adults after moving over to different countries, languages and cultures.”

The Young Lions squad celebrate Darnell Johnson's goal against the Dutch on Thursday

 

Downing led many of the players in his current squad to last season’s U19 Euro title and now wants to see his Young Lions continue their progress in a busy season for the U20s, with fixtures against a number of European opponents to come.

"We have top players, we proved that last year by winning the Euros and we've proven against the best teams in Europe that we have some good players,” he explained.

"It's important now that we maintain the consistency, keep winning matches and giving the boys experiences like this one tonight.

"We need to carry on this season, get the lads to progress and add to their experiences and if Gareth [Southgate] does call on them in three, four or five years time, hopefully experiences like tonight will help them.

"But it's a pleasure to work with talented players from across the country, it's a dream job and I love it.

"What we have to do from my point of view is maintain the consistency and make sure they are learning in every game.

"I was a little critical of them at half time because we do set high standards but we were delighted with the second half.”

By Nicholas Veevers