Football: Wilkinson's youth call-up `cheats fans'

HOWARD WILKINSON is on a collision course with club managers who fear he will pick their top young players for two competitions during a crucial part of the season.

Wilkinson, the Football Association's technical director, has even been accused of cheating fans by Peter Ridsdale, the chairman of Leeds United - the club he used to manage.

The World Under-20 Championship is taking place in Nigeria in April, and potentially Wilkinson could have a strong England side at his disposal, with Aston Villa's Gareth Barry, Joe Cole of West Ham and even Michael Owen eligible for selection.

As a full international, Owen is not likely to be included for the three- week tournament, which runs from 3 to 24 April. However, Wilkinson is eager to name the strongest possible squad - and Leeds look set to be particularly hard hit.

The defender Jonathon Woodgate, the striker Alan Smith and the goalkeeper Paul Robinson have all been integral parts of the first-team plans of the Leeds manager, David O'Leary, this season - but the Elland Road club could be deprived of all three. The situation has prompted an angry response from Ridsdale, who believes that, although the tournament is a worthwhile event, young players currently experiencing life in the first team would benefit more by staying in England.

"It is very important that players of 18 and 19 who are not in the first team should get as much experience as possible and they can get that through playing in this tournament," he said. "But I think that players who have emerged into firstteam football in the Premiership shouldn't be taken away at a time when your whole season is being determined.

"Championships, FA Cups and European places are being determined and if Howard Wilkinson takes these players then he is cheating the fans, who have paid their season ticket money, and putting the future of individual clubs at risk."

Any player selected for the competition would miss five scheduled Premiership matches, plus the possibility of an FA Cup semi-final and replay. The likes of Wes Brown from Manchester United could also be forced to sit out a European Cup semi-final.

An already unattractive dilemma for Wilkinson became even worse with yesterday's news that the World Under-18 Championship qualifying tournament - postponed in Israel in November because of the political situation in the Middle East - will now take place in March. From 7 to 14 March, England will compete against the new host nation, Spain, Andorra and Israel - and if they go through they will have to play a two-legged play-off on 31 March and 28 April. Woodgate would also be a prime candidate for that competition as well.

The Leeds manager has left Wilkinson in no doubt where his priorities should lie. "I am prepared to fight this all the way," O'Leary said. "We are striving to qualify for Europe again, so if we were to lose so many of our players it would be a joke.

"As well as being potentially damaging, those players are regularly involved with the first team and hopefully will be challenging for honours with us in April," the Irishman added. "What do the FA think these players will learn in Nigeria? There is no comparison to playing in the Premiership."

In contrast to Leeds, Liverpool have had some good news with regard to an international tournament. It was believed that Cameroon would require the defender Rigobert Song on 24 January, when the Anfield side face a fourth-round FA Cup tie at Old Trafford against Manchester United.

However, the 22-year-old Song, who has agreed a pounds 2.8m move from the Italian Serie A club Salernitana and is now waiting for the Department of Employment to issue a work permit, has to serve a two-match international ban and is unable to play for Cameroon in their African Nations' Cup fixture that weekend.

Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Life and Style
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Not quite what they were expecting

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal at the Golden Globes in 2011
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up