Gareth Southgate has hailed Luke Shaw's attitude in embracing his return to the England Under-21 squad this week while also revealing that Calum Chambers is poised to start for Roy Hodgson's senior side against San Marino on Thursday.
The U-21s manager also indicated that the row between Roy Hodgson and Louis van Gaal over the Manchester United full-back's fitness had been consigned to the past, explaining that it was Hodgson who spoke to Van Gaal about Shaw's involvement with the U21 side. “Roy had that conversation,” he said.
Southgate, looking ahead to his England U-21s' two-legged European Championship qualifying play-off against Croatia, cited Shaw, the Manchester United left-back, as an example of a new, more positive approach toward players moving between the senior and U-21 squads. “It's brilliant for him to have the humility to recognise that and be prepared to do it,” he said. “It's also great for us.”
Shaw's willingness to drop down contrasts with the reaction of some players in the past and Southgate suggested that should England overcome Croatia in Wolverhampton on Friday and Vinkovci next Tuesday, the teenager might not be the only one player with senior experience eager to participate in next June's finals in Czech Republic. “There may be more [players] of that view than people might think,” he said.
The U-21 manager also spoke about his unwillingness to block Arsenal centre-back Calum Chambers' step-up to the senior squad for Thursday's Euro 2016 qualifier against San Marino. “My view is the first team always comes first and then the experience of the individual after that so that is why Calum looks like he is going to play so that is the right thing for him,” he said. “If I am as a coach saying to him 'You cannot play for England's seniors', it is not a great footing to get off on.”
Following former U-21 coach Stuart Pearce's criticism of Jonjo Shelvey's involvement with the seniors after not being involved with the U-21s, Southgate explained his reasons for not selecting the Swansea midfielder. “The first squad I selected was in September and he was injured. In the October he was still carrying an injury and Swansea were in Europe. There was a lot going on because his girlfriend was pregnant so I didn't think he was ready. We were four games into the programme and I wasn't inclined to change that.
“He wasn't eligible for Toulon because of his age. Could I have called him back in? Yes I could, but I'm very big on the group and rewarding those that have done well.”
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