Matt’s Monologue: The Pathway To International Duty

Charlie Austin, Danny Ings and Aaron Cresswell. Three names who have risen through the lower leagues to excel in the top flight and are now being linked with a call up to the England team.

It is fantastic to see lads who have done so well at Championship, League One and League Two clubs being thought of so highly, in terms of perhaps earning international honours.

At a time when the Premier League are championing the Elite Player Performance Plan, the academy programme by which all professional clubs in England must adhere to if they want to run a youth system, I do not find it remotely surprising that the lads who are impressing so much are those who have mainly avoided being stockpiled by a “big” club.

These are lads who have been given a chance to play as much first team football as possible and have grabbed it with both hands.

For Cresswell particularly, his rise and rise since leaving Tranmere for Ipswich and subsequently West Ham three and a half years ago has been nothing short of sensational.

He always had a magnificent left foot on him, but you would not have found many supporters willing to stick their neck on the line and say he looked like a player with international potential (although he was better than League One class).

His deficiencies (from a personal point of view I felt he was a little suspect to the ball over the top, amongst other things) have been ironed out.

I am sure the same can be said for Ings and Austin. Both have got loads of games under their belt, with each match a chance to learn something new.

The quantity of matches that they have played, and therefore the vast amount of experience they have gained by a still relatively young age has stood them in great stead.

Compare that to a youngster who may move to a Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea – unless you are the very, very best, your chances of actual getting a first team call up are seriously slim.

Even if you are that good, the manager is probably more likely to spend several million on the finished article than play you.

Said player probably stays at the club up to under-21 level, and is then released.

But this does not take into account players developing at different stages of their career and are made better through gaining contrasting experiences – something that the likes of Cresswell, Ings and Austin have all benefited from.

On top of that, it is also great for an Evan Gumbs or Mitch Duggan, two second year scholars who have made their Tranmere debuts this season, to look at how well Aaron is doing now and think “why can’t I do that myself?”

Hopefully they too can be stars of the future.

As a footnote, the news that former Spurs winger David Ginola is to run for the FIFA presidency has to be one of the more unexpected announcements in the game in recent years.

I see he is backed by a well known betting company, so perhaps it is somewhat of a publicity stunt.

But if anybody can come in, challenge Sepp Blatter and change football for the better, then that can only be a positive thing.


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