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United team of Englishmen eligible for European U-21 Championship:
Ben Amos; Scott Wootton, Michael Keane, Tom Thorpe, Tyler Blackett; Larnell Cole, Phil Jones, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Nick Powell, Jesse Lingard; Danny Welbeck.

United team of Englishmen 20 or under:
Sam Johnstone; Michael Keane, Tyler Blackett, Tom Thorpe, Reece James; Larnell Cole, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Ben Pearson, Nick Powell, Jesse Lingard; Will Keane.

* Does not include Wilfried Zaha who will officially sign on 1 July.

07/06/2013 10:59, Report by Adam Marshall
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Blog: Hope for the future

There has been a collective gnashing of teeth over the state of youth football in England following the Under-21's opening-match defeat to Italy in the European Championship.

Losing to a solitary set-piece strike, scored 11 minutes from time, after initially looking to have taken the lead with a seemingly valid goal, may not in itself be a cause for pressing the panic button. But many observers felt the manner of the performance was extremely disappointing and coach Stuart Pearce himself described it as 'awful'.

Yet it should not all be a case of doom and gloom regarding England's future. A cursory glance towards Manchester United, the best Under-21 team in the country, would offer, at the least, some comfort that talented footballers are still being produced.

Those decrying a lack of technical ability among young Englishmen would do well to check out Jesse Lingard and Larnell Cole, for instance, who are certainly not lacking in that department. I have heard suggestions that leadership qualities are absent in the international set-up and yet Tom Thorpe and Ryan Tunnicliffe have these in abundance.

Indeed, eight of United's starters in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League final were English. Three more on the bench were also lads from the North-West and injury ruled out the likes of Tyler Blackett, Scott Wootton, Nick Powell and Will Keane.

Take nothing away from Tottenham, who won both qualifying groups in the competition, finishing ahead of United, and included a former member of the Reds' Academy in left-back Ezekiel Fryers in their side.

However, none of those on show at Old Trafford on 20 May made it into the European Championship finals. It's a fact that clearly indicates that there is a serious misalignment somewhere along the line. More stock is given to first-team football, even at a lower league level, and rightly so considering the obvious benefits of the loan system in developing youngsters.

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