Mumbai: On a day when the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India was handed a massive blow following the withdrawal of Brazil's teenage sensation Vinicius Junior, the absence of yet another superstar, Jadon Sancho from England's squad raised quite a few eyebrows.
Sancho, who joined German side Borussia Dortmund from Manchester City on the final day of the summer transfer window, did not turn up for Young Lions's training session at the Mumbai Football Arena (MFA) on Saturday.
In fact, he's currently in Germany and was named on the bench in Dortmund's 2-1 win over Augsburg on Saturday.
The 17-year-old was reportedly in a tug-of-war between Dortmund and the English FA as the Bundesliga club is trying to block Sancho from playing for the Young Lions in the mega event.
When asked about it, England U-17 coach Steve Cooper did not answer the question directly and instead stated, "The whole squad is here (in Mumbai) and ready to play. All the players are here and are waiting to make the most of the opportunity."
Recently, there have been some concerns over clubs not allowing their players to play for the national teams.
There was a huge outcry when Brazil whizkid Vinicius was not allowed to take part in the U-17 tournament as he reportedly wanted to fight for his place at the club. This further indicated that the clubs get a bit anxious about how much time their players spend with the international squad.
Cooper said that clubs handle such situations bit differently back in England.
"We have an excellent relationship with the clubs in England and that's something that both sides have worked harder on. The FA strives to build long-lasting relationships with clubs, who see the value of their players competing in international football, the experiences that it can offer. The players benefit and it is about long-term, so it is important to keep relationships going. The clubs also have a mutual understanding," Cooper said.
"There's always going to be a debate around contact time with international football but at the moment in England, we are in a very good place and with that idea, it's something that we want to work harder on because ultimately it's the players' benefit and that's the most important thing. They are young players, they are developing and it's all about the long term, so it's very important to keep a good relationship with the club," he explained.
The Young Lions coach further added that his focus is on the long term and not just for the upcoming mega event in India. He also urged his vibrant squad to emulate the success of the U-20 team.
"We had a very successful summer. Obviously, the group of players we have was very successful in Croatia. We reached the final of the U-17 Euros. The U-19s and U-20s obviously continued that success with the World Cup and Euros. So, we are in a good shape and we know that. It is a part of the long-term plan, to be successful but our idea is to work for the future," he said.
For England, winning titles is not the ultimate aim but the development of a young individual is the prime priority. "We want our players to be successful in the long-term. The academies are doing an outstanding job on players' development. I think at the back of the summer, the development hasn't gone unnoticed. The players will get the opportunity to play for the first-team soon," Cooper concluded.
England are set to take on New Zealand in a practice match at the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai on Sunday. Furthermore, the Mumbai Football Arena is offering free entry for fans to watch the game. "Teams asked us to opt for free entry so that they can feel the pressure of playing in front of crowds," said the former India goalkeeper Dinesh Nair, who is also an MFA Trustee.
Updated Date: Oct 01, 2017 12:19 PM