England Under-21 news

Neville concerned by next generation

February 13, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Everton captain Phil Neville believes the latest generation of England stars may lack the winning mentality to succeed at the highest level.

England U21 were without a number of first-choice players for the defeat to Italy U21
GettyImagesEngland U21 were without a number of first-choice players for the defeat to Italy U21

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Stuart Pearce suffered a spate of withdrawals from his England Under-21 squad for the friendly defeat to Italy this week, with Martin Kelly, Fabian Delph, Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge, Kieran Gibbs, Micah Richards, Chris Smalling and James Tomkins among those to have pulled out.

Neville, who made seven appearance for England Under-21s and won 59 senior caps, believes the situation shows a worrying lack of hunger among the country's young players.

"It really saddened me to look at the England Under-21 squad and see 12 pull-outs, when you have a situation where the full national manager is looking to blood and build a fresh young England team," Neville said in The People.

"I find it disgraceful. I felt ashamed that players who have dropped down from the England team to the Under-21s are pulling out of friendly games against Italy. I don't see those matches as friendly games at all. It was Italy away from home for England - you should want to play in that game."

He added: "You look at James Milner - who turned up every time he was picked for the Under-21s - and I think Jamie Carragher played something like 40-odd times for the Under-21s.

"It's something to do with hunger, desire, wanting to get to the top. The dying breed of players like Carragher, (Steven) Gerrard, me and my brother Gary - maybe we wanted it more than some of the younger generation do."

Neville, though, believes there are still those players who have the right mindset for success.

"There are younger players who do want it," he said. "I look at the way Jack Wilshere plays and I see the hunger in his eyes - you can just see it."