Stubbs Boosted By Call-Ups
Four Evertonians named in the England Under-20s World Cup squad.
Alan Stubbs says it is a ‘major feather in the cap’ for Everton’s youth system that four members of the Club’s Under-21s team have been included the England Under-20s World Cup squad.
Academy graduates Ross Barkley, John Lundstram and Chris Long, plus January recruit John Stones are all part of Peter Taylor’s squad for this summer’s tournament in Turkey.
The Young Lions begin their campaign with group matches against Iraq (23 June), Chile (26 June) and African champions Egypt (29 June) before the knockout phase for the 24-nation tournament begins on 2 July.
“It’s a major feather in the cap for Everton that we have got that many players in the England squad,” Stubbs told evertonfc.com.
“I’d like to have more players in the England Under-19s and Under-21s groups, but that is just me setting high standards.
“It’s really encouraging from a coach’s point of view and there is nothing better than when you are working with good quality players who are developing.”
Stubbs looks back on the 2012/13 season with pride after his Under-21s team reached the semi-finals of the revamped competition.
The old regional reserve league was overhauled in favour of a two-phase national league, subsequently followed by an end-of-season play-off campaign.
The Blues embarked on a 16-game unbeaten run during the second half of the season before they were eliminated by Tottenham Hotspur in the knock-out stage after losing 3-2 at White Hart Lane.
“No matter what the structure is, you always get people that will have something to say about it,” Stubbs said of the inaugural Under-21s season.
“The only negative thing from my point of view – and it’s only a minor point – is that we didn’t get the chance to play against Liverpool, Manchester City and other north west teams which were on our doorstep.
“That said, travelling to games didn’t bother me because it’s what the players would have to get used to if they were playing in the Football League.
“The players also got the opportunity to play on first-team grounds which would have been a great experience for them.
“I honestly believe we could have won the semi-final at White Hart Lane and we were very unfortunate at the end to lose the game like we did. Playing Manchester United in the final would not have scared us.”
Despite Everton Under-21s reaching the last-four, Stubbs maintains that a key focus of the Club’s youth system should always be producing players good enough to break into the first-team squad.
Stubbs said: “My aim is to put more players through [to the first-team]. I harp on about that all the time because I want more and more players to progress every year.
“There shouldn’t be a case when we have a dry year. I know that is setting high standards but that is what we have to do. We have got to try and produce players every season.”