Blogs & Opinion


Alan Smith:

Most Popular Posts:

Opinion Archive:

England Under-21 team have quality in attack, says Alan Smith

Alan Smith - Alan Smith Posted 4th June 2013 view comments

If you compare England's Under-21 squad to the one that played in Denmark two years ago you could argue that it is not as strong.

In 2011, when Stuart Pearce's men failed to make the semi-finals, we had Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge, who are now pretty established Premier League players and in and around the senior England team.

Henderson: the England Under-21 skipper has developed, says Alan

Henderson: the England Under-21 skipper has developed, says Alan

This time around, though, the party seems a little short of experience - Pearce has even drafted in a few lads from the under-20 side - but there is certainly quality going forward.

Man United new-boy Wilfried Zaha, who is currently carrying an ankle knock, is the star name and the player everybody will be looking at, and he can be devastating whether he is deployed wide or through the middle.

Henderson had a good second half of the season at Liverpool and is now a lot more mature as footballer.

Alan Smith
Quotes of the week

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS

European Under 21 Ch'ship
Israel v Norway
4.30pm, Wed, Sky Sports 2 HD
England v Italy
7.15pm, Wed, Sky Sports 2 HD

Blackpool's former Liverpool youngster, Tom Ince, meanwhile, can also provide some guile, along with Jonjo Shelvey, while I am looking forward to seeing how Henri Lansbury goes, too.

Lansbury has not really pushed on from a club point of view, though he now appears to have settled down at Nottingham Forest, but he has been around the under-21 scene for a while and impressed in patches in Denmark.

I don't think the-ex Arsenal man got enough game time then but he is a good passer of the ball and can create a chance, and he could link-up well with captain and lynchpin, Jordan Henderson, in the middle of the park.

Henderson had just moved to Liverpool two years ago and that possibly distracted him in Scandinavia, but he had a good second half to this season at Anfield and is now a lot more mature as footballer.

I just hope all our players combine, put some attractive, open football together and fulfil their potential because we haven't really done that too much recently, even though we got to the final in 2009 against Germany.

Beneficial

Under-21 teams always want to serve the seniors by developing lads, bringing them on as people and getting them used to tournament football, something we've seen previously with Theo Walcott, Joe Hart and the players I've mentioned at the top of this article.

With that in mind, you could say it would be beneficial for players in the England team who are eligible for this tournament, like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Rodwell, to travel to the competition and continue their education.

But, on the flip side, the club managers want players in their first-team squads to rest over the summer and not get overworked, while Roy Hodgson doesn't have a large pool of talent to pick from and wants to keep the young guns to bulk up his England team.

Pearce, however, will still be looking to win the tournament and keep up a pretty successful period as under-21 manager, which has included consistently qualifying for major competitions, something other countries, such as France, haven't done.

Stuart seems quite relaxed ahead of England's opening game against Italy on Wednesday evening and people around him say he is as calm as he has ever been on the eve of a tournament, so hopefully that can bear fruit.

I am really looking forward to seeing the stars of tomorrow line-up in this event - we saw Juan Mata light things up two years ago and he has gone on to great things since then - and it is a great platform for these guys to express themselves and further their careers.

Spain are probably the favourites but England seem to have the easier group - they have been drawn with Norway and Israel, in addition to Italy - and I would expect them to qualify for the semi-finals.

And if they build a bit of momentum and generate some togetherness, who knows what can happen?

Click here for details of our European Under-21 Championship coverage.

Comments (1)

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Kon Hanson (Watford fan) says...

It will be interesting to see if Chalobah gets a shot at this year's championships. He's the type of player who can run a game if the opposition aren't clued up on how he plays. Will also be interesting to see if Pearce sticks with the conventional number 9 with someone like Connor Wickham or goes for a false 9 like Shelvey or Tom Ince who has done well down the middle in the latter part of Blackpool's season. Either way, we have a talented bunch here. We might have the best defence in the tournament - Caulker and Dawson have formed a very good partnership. Good luck to the lads.

Posted 22:57 4th June 2013

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Add Comment*

Send us your views

Are you a Sky Sports subscriber?

*All fields required, your email address will be kept private

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Guillem Balague

Balague: Barca training tough

Guillem Balague says Barcelona’s stars will suffer gruelling double sessions during their week at Burton....

Ray Wilkins

Wilkins: Rooney for captain

Ray Wilkins says Wayne Rooney is the "standout candidate" for the England captaincy....

Jamie Carragher

Carra: Gerrard hard to replace

Jamie Carragher says there’s no natural replacement for Steven Gerrard in the England team....

Latest News RSS feeds

Barkley signs new Everton deal

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley has signed a new four-year deal with the club.

Allegri: Vidal happy to stay

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is convinced Arturo Vidal will remain with the club for the forthcoming season.

Live transfer updates

Hull sign Andrew Robertson and Harry Maguire, West Ham finalise Enner Valencia deal and Southampton close on signings.

Drogba's easy decision

Didier Drogba admits it took little thinking about when he was offered the chance to return to Chelsea.

Shaw told to shape up

Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal has ordered Luke Shaw to train alone because he is not fit enough.

Features

La Liga: A look at the best buys so far in Spain

La Liga: A look at the best buys so far in Spain

The top value signings of the summer might not necessarily involve the best players. Clearly, James Rodríguez and Luis Suárez are a cut above anyone recently recruited by Real Sociedad.

In part two of his Sky Sports Fantasy Football scout report, tipster Tim Clement looks at which young stars are set to shine this season

In part two of his Sky Sports Fantasy Football scout report, tipster Tim Clement looks at which young stars are set to shine this season

There’s nothing quite like spotting a young talent set to flourish and Sky Sports Fantasy Football managers will be especially desperate to discover the next young star set to shine.

Good Week/Bad Week: We take a look at the winners and losers from the last seven days

Good Week/Bad Week: We take a look at the winners and losers from the last seven days

So much can change in a week of sporting action and, sure enough, there have been plenty of highs and lows over the past seven days.