Unarrested development? England’s Under-20 World Cup boosted by club cooperation | Andy Hunter

Coach Paul Simpson believes England’s hopes in the Under-20 World Cup, which begins on Saturday, have been improved by changing attitudes at club level

“The game is important for us but I let the young boys leave for the under-20s before the end of the season because to play in a world championship is really good for their development” – Ronald Koeman, speaking before Everton’s final home game against Watford.

The Everton manager made headlines last week by reiterating an ultimatum to Ross Barkley but none for allowing five other English talents to miss the final fortnight of the Premier League season to prepare for the Under-20 World Cup. It reflected a significant change in the relationship between Premier League clubs and the Football Association, however, and similar decisions taken at Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Bournemouth, among others. The constraint that has often cost England youth teams on the international stage – a lack of cooperation from clubs – will not apply to Paul Simpson’s under-20s when they launch their World Cup campaign against Argentina in South Korea on Saturday.

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