Rehanne Skinner has told her England Women’s Under-19 players to continue their development and strive for a place in Phil Neville’s senior squad.
The Young Lionesses won all six qualifiers on their way to the Euro finals in Scotland, but were unable to make it out of the group after being edged out by Germany and Spain before a final-day salvo against Belgium.
And while Skinner was disappointed to have missed out on a place in the last four, she has reminded her squad of the bigger picture, with England set to stage the senior Euro finals in 2021.
She said: “These tournaments are in place so younger players experience playing against the very best teams in Europe at U19 level.
“This experience will help our players understand the different levels and help them realise what is required to transition through to the Under-21s and ultimately the senior team.”
She continued: “Seeing younger players breaking into Phil’s squad has also acted as a source of inspiration for these players because they can see that it is achievable, as long as they are prepared to work harder and perform consistently with their clubs.”
England sauntered through two stages of qualifying, winning all six matches, against Malta, Croatia, Slovakia, Turkey, Sweden and Italy, scoring 34 goals without reply.
They were drawn in Group B at the eight-team finals alongside Belgium, holders Spain and last year’s runners-up Germany.
Skinner’s charges fell 2-0 behind to Germany in the opening game and were unable to find a way back into the contest with the exception of Jessica Naz’s added-time consolation.
They were undone by Olga Carmona’s first-half strike against Spain, which resigned them to a group-stage exit, though Ebony Salmon’s fine solo effort against Belgium did ensure England finished their campaign on a winning note.
Skinner said: “We were drawn in a really tough group, as you’d expect when you get to the finals, and it was something we were really looking forward to in terms of the test that would give us.
“It came down to fine margins in the end. We had opportunities against Germany that we didn’t take.
“We competed extremely well against Spain, better than we did against them in La Manga, so there was an improvement there in terms of performance.”
She added: “The players have progressed massively over the course of the year and taken on board a lot of things. But it just came down to fine margins on the day. We were just unable to execute those little bits of detail that would have made the difference.
“Now we need to look at how we learn from this and what we need to do going forward.”
But Skinner believes the work that is going on at St. George’s Park means it won’t be long before England teams are celebrating success at every level.
She said: “The women’s game has changed so much over the last few years – so much for the better for these girls in terms of the facilities they have access to at club level and when they’re with England.
“Our own pathway has strengthened tremendously in terms of the facilities at St. George’s Park and the staff support that we have available for each one of our teams.
“We’ve now got a platform to grow from so hopefully it’s just a matter of time before we start seeing the fruits of those labours.”