Gareth Southgate urges England to learn from youth teams on road to Russia 2018

11 August 2017 12:53

England manager Gareth Southgate believes the summer success of the country's youth teams will act as inspiration for the senior side on the road to Russia 2018.

England have enjoyed an unprecedented run at international competitions in recent months, winning the Under-20 World Cup, the Under-19 European Championship and the Toulon Tournament.

In addition the Young Lions were beaten finalists in the Under-17 Euros and made the last four at the Under-21 equivalent before defeat by Germany.

On the eve of the Premier League season, attention will now return to Southgate's squad and whether they can make their own mark at next summer's World Cup.

And Southgate is happy to take his lead from the next generation.

"We want our young players to experience success and then for that to inspire our senior team," he said.

"We sat as a group and watched the Under-20 World Cup final, because the whole pathway is joined up and our senior players can be inspired by the younger ones.

"We want competition coming through and it's been lovely to watch. I don't think we could have expected as much success as we've had in terms of tournaments won and that might never happen again, winning so many.

"But we do want to become consistent in these tournaments, to get to finals and semi-finals, because that is an important part of the journey from an international perspective."

All eyes are now on when and if the young blood that excelled over the summer will get the chance to experience first-team football.

With overseas signings pouring in each year, the competition is harder than ever but Southgate remains hopeful the good will emerge.

"That is the next step," he said. "We've been brilliant at youth level, we have guys who won Euros, World Cups, and the next challenge is to get them into their own first teams. They have to keep being challenged but also to keep challenging themselves."

Southgate was speaking after making a personal appearance at the Special Olympics Athletes' Village in Sheffield, where he met members of the Great Britain team and took part in a Q&A with competitors and volunteers.

"They gave me a real grilling," he joked. "It was a great experience and they are inspiring to me. An event like this is about opportunity for people, the athletes have to raise their own money in some cases and it's an incredible achievement.

"It's important to recognise this event and the importance of it."

Source: PA