Lee Carsley is looking forward to working with some “outstanding talent” as he approaches his first international break as England U21 manager. The man who replaced Aidy Boothroyd following another poor showing at the U21 Euros, Carsley told EnglandFootball.org also said that the main target of his tenure has to be “has got to be to support the seniors,” and that his assistant manager Ashley Cole will be a “brilliant addition.”
“I think that, in terms of targets, the overall target has got to be to support the seniors — to help them win a major tournament,” said the former Everton and Ireland international. “Within that, there will be individual targets — not just for the U21s — the U20s, U19s, U18s, all the age groups. It’s just important that we are aligned. We’re not running separate age groups. The main role for everyone is to support the senior team.Embed from Getty Images
“Ultimately with the U21s, we want to qualify and then we want to get to the latter stages of tournaments. In terms of showcasing your talents, we want our best players to play against the world’s best players and European best players. I think we can do that; I think we can compete with the best. We’ve got some outstanding talent, and [they’re] good lads to coach. Myself, Ashley, Tim (Dittmer, goalkeeping coach), we’re in a privileged position to coach these players.
Carsley was glowing in his summary of what his assistant Ashley Cole — who won 107 senior England caps — can bring to the role.
“The most obvious thing about Ashley is [that] obviously he was a great player. One of the best left-backs that England have ever produced and, potentially that the world has ever seen. He’s a fantastic elite player, elite defender with brilliant experience. I was lucky in lockdown that I was on a lot of calls with Ashley through the different seminars that we were in. Listening to him talk and the kind of questions that he asked — at the time I was at the U20s — in the back of my mind I thought it would be good to get him in and around one of our younger squads. It was timing, more than anything, that allowed me the opportunity to bring him in as an assistant.Embed from Getty Images
“First and foremost, he loves coaching. He’s coaching at Chelsea U15s and U16s. Sitting down together and talking about how we see development football, how he can support the players, I think he’s a really good fit for us. I think we’re lucky to have him. That fact is as well that he’s played for England. The trials and tribulations that the players will have on the pitch and off the pitch, I’m hoping that he’ll be a massive resource that the players can tap into, and the coaches as well. I think he’s a brilliant addition.”
47-year-old Carsley, who was born in Birmingham, has coached alongside his predecessor Aidy Boothroyd at both club and country. He revealed that the two are still close and will remain in close contact during Carsley’s tenure.Embed from Getty Images
“We speak a lot. Aidy was a big part of me coming in originally, four or five years ago when I assisted him with the U19s. Then I went to [Manchester] City and then re-joined The FA with the [England U20s]. We’ve got a brilliant working relationship. I really enjoyed working with him, and he’s someone that I’ll keep in touch with. He’s there to support me. I was lucky; the first time that I was asked to be an assistant, similar to what Ashley’s doing now, I was at Brentford. I was lucky to be brought in by Aidy and Dan Ashworth at the time. We’ll definitely keep in touch.”
Carsley’s reign begins with a double-header next month. His squad (below) includes 11 players who have played for the U21s before, and a huge 13 newbies including Liverpool starlet Harvey Elliott. Their fixtures are an away friendly against Romania and then a home Euros qualifier against Kosovo at the home of MK Dons.