In a rare moment of melodrama/desperation to make a name for himself on Twitter, BBC presenter Gary Lineker recently dubbed it a ‘national disgrace’ if Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane and Ross Barkley don’t feature for England in this summer’s Under-21 European Championship.
More about this can be read here, but revelations in today’s Sunday People will have left the Match of the Day anchor incandescent with rage.
The red top reckons Everton schemer-come-striker Barkley will not be boarding the plane to the Czech Republic to represent the Young Lions.
Roy Hodgson requires the Toffees prodigy to turn out for the senior side in England’s June fixtures against Ireland and Slovenia and appears to share Roberto Martinez’s belief that Barkley is too good for the Under-21s.
The Croydon Commandant said:
“I think Roberto has a genuine argument about Ross and the Under-21s and it brings you back to what benefits the tournament will have.
I tend to be veering towards Roberto for the simple reason that I think that was a tough tournament in Brazil last year for Barkley.”
The 21-year-old is (obviously) eligible to be selected by boss Gareth Southgate for the Under-21s this summer, though won’t feature when they take on Portugal in the tournament opener, a match they’re rated 6/4 to win.
Several quarters, including Lineker, are of the opinion that taking the strongest squad to the tournament, giving England the best chance of winning it, will improve the senior side’s prospects of long-term success.
But selecting Barkley, and Sterling for that matter, isn’t necessary at this point.
Burnout is a significant risk for both players, given that they’ve been staples in their respective club’s first-teams for a second successive season and both were involved with the World Cup last summer.
The pair suffered at the start of this season having not had sufficient time off between May and July and starting pre-season later than the bulk of their colleagues on account of international commitments.
Under-21 involvement will mean another restless summer, ahead of a third in succession in 2016 with the Euros taking place.
Exhausting these players will have anything but beneficial effect for the senior England side in the long-term.
This, however, isn’t the main reason why neither should feature.
Since making their senior side bows, neither have featured for the juniors, nor have they had any part in qualifying for the tournament.
Given their superiority, both will walk into the starting XI if selected, which will obviously be at the expense of two players whose efforts have been integral to England’s qualifying for the Under-21 Euros.
Promising players like Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse and Will Hughes of Derby are the regulars who would likely be made to step aside.
Such a move would be a morale-devastating one, which, again, would further hamper hopes of long-term success for the national side.