Phil Neville: 'England youngsters not battle-hardened'

Neville: 'Youngsters aren't battle-hardened'
© PA Photos
Phil Neville believes that England's Under-21s are failing because they are not playing "quality football" early enough.

Phil Neville believes that England's young generation are behind the other nations as they are playing "quality football" too late.

The former Everton captain, who has since retired from football, was part of the recently-departed Stuart Pearce's coaching team for England's campaign in the Under-21 European Championships in Israel.

The Young Lions were knocked out of the summer competition in the group phase, failing to gain a single point during the tournament.

"Our Under-21 players aren't playing enough quality football early enough," Sky Sports News quotes Neville as saying. "I got my experience at 18. Our lads now are 21, 22, 23 and a lot of them still aren't playing and getting the rigours of 40 or 50 games a season.

"When I was 21, I'd travelled the world playing football, playing three games a week, so my body and mind were battle-hardened. A lot of the kids now aren't battle-hardened until they get to 27, and that's too late. We'll have missed another generation of international footballers."

Meanwhile, reports have claimed that former Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur defender Sol Campbell is interested in becoming the new manager of the Under-21 national side.

Sol Campbell
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