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Mark Sampson: give young English players more opportunities

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Sampson is also calling on Women's Super League clubs to give young English players more opportunities as the continuing influx of foreigners - like in the men's Premier League - denies openings for home-grown talent.

The England Under-19s finished bottom of their European Championship group with one point from three matches and Sampson said: "There's not enough domestic experience in that team.

"There are not many 18-year-old players playing regular WSL football and that's something that needs to be addressed.

"The managers and clubs will throw back at me, 'the players have got to be of sufficient quality.' Well, I believe they are, but we've got to prove to the clubs that they are. The players have got to do that themselves.

"We've now got to look at how can we address the balance to make sure that young English players get the opportunity to play at the highest level."



I can understand the England manager wanting there to be an emphasis on his future players getting regular game time in their formative years—but you can't ask or expect that WSL managers make youth internationals an integral part of their team and then go scheduling the WSL during youth international tournaments. Managers can't build a team around players who are absent on international duty for weeks at a time. And they also shouldn't have to be handicapped by a fixture pile-up because they have to postpone games due to player absence.

If we don't first stop creating the scheduling clash only one of two things is going to happen with this request—either the WSL managers tell Sampson and the FA to go away and stop trying to interfere with their team selections, or the WSL managers say fine I will make my youths a key piece but I won't be releasing them for any youth international tournament which falls outside of a FIFA window because they will be too important to my team to let them leave. Sampson and the FA won't like either outcome any more than they like seeing youth NT players sat on the bench or youth NTs finishing bottom of their groups.


Sampson of all people should understand this from a club manager's POV. He was always complaining about the consequences which were dumped on him and Bristol whenever Wales took away half of his squad. If you depend on youth internationals they end up leaving with their country for a month and you get to choose between the lesser of two evils in playing on with absentees or postponing and causing yourself a fixture pile up.

Whether Sampson likes it or not, not making youth internationals a key part of your team is the more convenient option as it stands and that isn't a WSL manager's fault. Perhaps he should be using his current position and his own personal past experience of this problem to relay the message to the FA instead of pointing the finger in the direction which he is.

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