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England MU19s boss Paul Simpson will be an interested observer as German game returns

With professional football set to return in the Bundesliga, England MU19s head coach Paul Simpson admits he'll be tuning in and with a number of Young Lions now plying their trade in Germany, it'll be an interesting few days for him...

Friday 15 May 2020
England MU19s head coach Paul Simpson will be an interested observer of football's return in Germany

With the Bundesliga re-starting this weekend it’s obviously going to be great to have some football to watch again, and for us as development coaches there’s a little bit of purpose to it as well.

Even before the lockdown, the German league was one which we’d focus on because of the growing number of players we have out there.

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke
  • Bundesliga
  • 2.30pm BST, Saturday 16 May 2020
  • Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund
  • Live on BT Sport in the UK

For me as England MU19 head coach, we have a couple of lads playing there in Xavi Amaechi at Hamburg and Clinton Mola with Stuttgart so it’s a league I’ve been looking at anyway.

I’ve been in touch with them both this week to check they’re okay and they’re enjoying being back in full training after a steady build-up, both on their own at first and then in groups of twos, fours and sixes.

Xavier Amaechi has been playing in Germany with Hamburg this season

Over the last week or ten days, they’ve been back working as a full group, they’ve been getting tested regularly and are doing everything the German authorities are asking them to and they're just desperate to be involved in a game this weekend.

They both play their games on Sunday, so hopefully they’ll be involved and I know I’ll be trying to find a live stream somewhere too.

England MU19s' Clinton Mola is currently playing in the Bundesliga 2 with Stuttgart

But on Saturday, when Borussia Dortmund take on Schalke in the first game this weekend, we’re hopefully going to have two English players in Jadon Sancho and Jonjoe Kenny lining up against each other in a match which is going to have a massive audience.

They’re two lads who’ve also played a huge part in our England teams over the last few years and I’ve been lucky enough to have coached them both in that time so I’m really looking forward to sitting down to watch the game.

Jonjoe was a major player for us both on and off the pitch with our U20s at the World Cup in South Korea in 2017. He’s a player who makes sure he gets every single ounce of himself out on that pitch.

He’s such a top character and was a big personality in our group so he was a major part in our success at that competition. He drives standards and leads by example and he’s a funny fella too. The likes of him, Kieran Dowell and Dom Calvert-Lewin kept everyone lifted as the competition went on and we were all away from home for so long.

Jonjoe Kenny was a big player for England MU20s at the 2017 World Cup in South Korea

So I’m not surprised at all that he’s gone out to Germany, settled in at a big club like Schalke and to play as many games as he has this season. It’s a fantastic achievement and I’m delighted for him but he’ll know that he’ll have to be on his game this weekend if he’s facing up against Jay.

We had Jay with the U19s squad a few years ago when he came away with us for a Euro Elite qualifying round in Macedonia while he was still a couple of years younger. You could see his ability then, both in training and matches.

You only have to look at what he’s done since then, because he’s a really talented footballer and it’s been a real education for him being involved at a club the size of Borussia Dortmund.

He’s settled down there, really grown up and matured on and off the field which has been a massive thing for him and he’s absolutely thriving. His return over the last few seasons in terms of goals and assists, he must be up there with the best in Europe.

Jadon Sancho spent a number of years with our development teams

It just shows that the England talent pathway can work, as Jadon has been involved with us since the U16s and U17s, who he helped to win the World Cup, and now with the seniors.

Jonjoe also came all the way through the age groups until that U20 World Cup win three years ago, and the experience which they’ve both picked up during those years will have helped them to where they are now.

He had a run of games with Everton after that World Cup and he’s now able to go and hold his own in Germany, where it’s a different league and culture and I know he’s learning the language and is trying to develop himself.

When you’ve got young lads who are prepared to do that, it’s fantastic for us as a country.

We have boys from our teams who are out playing in other countries such as Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal, so that’s got to be good for the future of our teams moving forward.

By Paul Simpson England MU19s head coach