England Under-17s’ World-Cup winning manager Steve Cooper believes there is a blueprint in place to give Gareth Southgate’s senior side every chance of benefiting from youth team success.
The Under-17s were crowned world champions after producing a brilliant comeback from 2-0 down to beat Spain 5-2 in Kolkata on Saturday.
In June England’s Under-20s won their version of the World Cup, the Under-19s were crowned European champions in July while the Under-17s were runners-up in May’s Euros.
Next summer’s World Cup in Russia may come too early for these youngsters but Cooper thinks there is every chance they could play a part in the future.
“We have a plan. We have been at St George’s Park for five years and all the national coaches are very close, we work in a similar way,” Cooper told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme.
“The teams are expected to play in a certain way and if it is a good one the more you practise it the better you become at it.
“The results have been fantastic – the 20s winning in the summer and what happened in Europe – but we are very much still in the infancy.
“It was magnificent to win last night but if we hadn’t it would still have been important.
“We have to keep one eye on the future, that is the most important thing and what we want to do is win long term at senior level and to do that you can’t work off the cuff, you have to join everything up and that is what we are doing.”
Cooper said senior side boss Southgate was heavily invested in all of England’s youth programmes and was already well aware of the talent coming through the ranks.
“I speak to Gareth a lot, as do all the national coaches, and I think that is one of the key drivers at the moment,” he added.
“He is very much interested in what the younger teams are doing. He is very supportive, very aware of the work we are doing and that is a good thing because we are all working towards him.
“We want these players to come through. We select players who we think can go the distance and have longevity.”
Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden, who is understood to be very highly rated by Pep Guardiola, won player of the tournament and Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster finished leading scorer with eight goals after back-to-back hat-tricks in the quarter and semi-finals.
Both have made the bench for their respective first teams but have yet to make a senior club appearance.
Cooper believes they way their clubs deal with the players will play the biggest part in their development.
“He (Foden) won player of the tournament, which was well deserved, as you only have to watch him play and see what he stands for,” the Under-17s boss said.
“He just wants to play and would play a game every day if he had that chance. Putting him on the pitch is where he belongs.
“How good he is going to be and how far he will go are questions for Man City. We have supported him well in allowing him to go do what he does.”
On Brewster, he added: “Rhian is a really good example of what the group in general stand for – very good work ethic, very talented boy, but a very humble lad and interacts fantastically with the players and staff and very much loves playing for England.
“He typifies what the lads stand for and they are a credit for their generation and I am so proud to be their coach.”
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