English core

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

The Under-21 championship is also a misnomer. West Brom's Craig Dawson, whose goal was disallowed against the Azzurri, turned 23 on 6 May. So it is almost like an Under-23 or 'B' squad, particularly when senior members are usually overlooked - with our own Phil Jones (21) and Danny Welbeck (22) instead included for the friendlies with Republic of Ireland and Brazil.

Many would argue that a lack of first-team football means Thorpe, Lingard, Cole et al should not be considered for selection at such a high level of international football but they could have the skills many are demanding to see. Simply because they have been unable to break into United's side, a tall order for any player, should not necessarily mean they would be any less effective than Championship first-teamers.

Of course, Thorpe, Cole and keeper Sam Johnstone are all in Peter Taylor's England squad for the Under-20 World Cup later this summer and that does show the regard these players are held in. Academy Player of the Year Ben Pearson also represented England Under-19s recently.

So United's youngsters are being recognised at international level and that is not the problem. The issue, for me, seems to be that the newly-created domestic Under-21 division is not mirroring the same level internationally. Hence, the situation where the best performers in that age group for their clubs are not yet deemed worthy of the same exposure against the pick of the continent.

Whether Under-21 international football should be just that, which I accept could be a little unfair for those involved at the start of the two-year qualifying for the European Championship, or the domestic game is altered to get closer to replicating the experience of playing against older opponents, is open to debate.

However, I'm not sure merely introducing the likes of Welbeck, Jones, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to such tournaments at this stage is the answer as many seem to think. Welbeck and Jones were key parts of the team two years ago at the same finals.

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