Gary Lineker wants best young England talent to go to U21 finals

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley
Ross Barkley was part of the full England squad for the World Cup in Brazil last summer

Gary Lineker has urged Premier League managers to allow England players to gain tournament experience with the Under-21s.

Lineker wants the best young English talent to feature in next June's European Under-21 Championship.

Everton boss Roberto Martinez warned England not to select Ross Barkley.

"Won't happen, but I wish PL managers would support their young players' international careers, not hinder them," BBC presenter Lineker tweeted.

"All our star Under-21 players should go to the finals next summer if fit. Wonderful tournament experience. Other countries insist on it.

"I get managers' me, me, me attitude, but wouldn't it be refreshing if, for once, they thought about the good of the national game?"

Gareth Southgate's England Under-21s secured their place in the Czech Republic with a 2-1 win over Croatia on Tuesday to seal a 4-2 aggregate win.

Martinez and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger have voiced concerns about the potential for fatigue if regular first-teamers are selected for the finals.

Everton midfielder Barkley, 20, suffered a knee ligament injury on the eve of this season but could return against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Media playback is not supported on this device

No enquiries for Barkley - Martinez

"If the tournament was now it would be a good opportunity for him to get some playing time, but if it is at the end of a season where he has played consistently for 10 months then he needs to have a break," Martinez said.

Barkley is among a host of young players with senior international experience - along with Liverpool's Raheem Sterling and Arsenal trio Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers - who Southgate is reportedly keen to call up next summer.

However, Martinez wants to protect one of his prize assets, who resumed full training with the Toffees' first team on Monday.

"We keep talking about players who need to make tournaments but I think we need to start creating a way of playing, and that way of playing will demand one player or another," the Spaniard added.

"It is not because bringing so many good names together will give you a chance of being successful.

"What would be the Under-21s' objective - is it to get players into the senior side because if players are already in the senior side what would be the motivation for a player to go into the Under-21s?

"Sometimes we speak too much about individual names. You need to look into it on an individual case; players who have played too much football, the needs of the team more importantly."

Wenger is also against the idea of selecting players for the Under-21s who have featured for the senior national side.

"Once a guy has moved up to the full national team and you put him down [again to the Under-21s] he is never good," he said.

"Apart from on the selfish front for us when a guy has played 50 games, it is better a guy has a good rest during the summer. But most of the time, when they move down, they are not completely at their highest quality."

Top Stories