England’s plan coming to fruition for success at top level

England players celebrates with the trophy after winning the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Kolkata, India, by defeating Spain 5-2 from two goals behind (Picture: Anupam Nath/AP).
England players celebrates with the trophy after winning the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Kolkata, India, by defeating Spain 5-2 from two goals behind (Picture: Anupam Nath/AP).
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MANAGER Steve Cooper believes there is a blueprint in place to give Gareth Southgate’s senior side every chance of benefiting from youth team success.

The Under-17s were crowned world champions after producing a brilliant comeback from 2-0 down to beat Spain in Kolkata on Saturday.

In June, England’s Under-20s won their version of the World Cup, the Under-19s were crowned European champions in July and the Under-17s were runners-up in May’s Euros.

Next summer’s World Cup in Russia will come too early for these youngsters, but Cooper thinks there is every chance they could play a part in the future.

“We have a plan. We have been at St George’s Park for five years and all the national coaches are very close, we work in a similar way,” said Cooper.

“The teams are expected to play in a certain way and if it is a good one the more you practice it the better you become at it.

“The results have been fantastic – the 20s winning in the summer and what happened in Europe – but we are very much still in the infancy.

“It was magnificent to win in India, but if we hadn’t it would still have been important.

“We have to keep one eye on the future, that is the most important thing and what we want to do is win long term at senior level and to do that you can’t work off the cuff, you have to join everything up and that is what we are doing.”

Cooper said senior side manager Southgate was already well aware of the talent coming through the ranks.

“I speak to Gareth a lot, as do all the national coaches, and I think that is one of the key drivers at the moment,” he added. “He is very much interested in what the younger teams are doing. He is very supportive, very aware of the work we are doing and that is a good thing because we are all working towards him. We want these players to come through. We select players who we think can go the distance and have longevity.”

Manchester City midfield player Phil Foden, who is understood to be very highly rated by Pep Guardiola, won player of the tournament and Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster finished leading scorer with eight goals after back-to-back hat-tricks in the quarter- and semi-finals.

Both have made the bench for their respective first teams, but have yet to make a senior club appearance. Cooper believes the way their clubs deal with the players will play the biggest part in their development.

“Foden’s award was well deserved, as you only have to watch him play and see what he stands for. He just wants to play and would play a game every day if he had that chance. Putting him on the pitch is where he belongs.

“How good he is going to be and how far he will go are questions for Man City. We have supported him well in allowing him to go do what he does.”