Hodgson gives blessing for England youngsters to play at Euro Under-21 Championships

England manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed he won’t block his Under-21s counterpart Gareth Southgate from picking the likes of Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley for the European Under-21 Championships next year, ESPN has reported.

Southgate’s side have qualified for next year’s tournament, to be held in the Czech Republic, with the start of the competition coming only a few days after the senior side’s final game of 2014-15. The full England team are due to play the Republic of Ireland and Slovenia in June but Hodgson has said Southgate will get first pick.

“My policy is a very simple one. After Gareth Southgate has picked his squad, I will pick my squad for Slovenia,” Hodgson said. “He can pick any under-21 who’s available and I will take the rest. He’ll be under no pressure from me whatsoever because we’ve got a lot of players these days.

“We can deal with four or five absentees and tournaments are important. But if they’re available for me, that’s fine too.”

The likes of Barkley, Sterling, Jack Wilshere, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, John Stones and Calum Chambers could all move from the senior squad to the Under-21s.

“He’ll speak to me and he’ll tell me what he wants to do,” Hodgson added. “Whether he’ll want to take all these players, that’s up to him.

“You’ll have to speak to him about that. If Gareth thinks the best way to win the tournament is to jettison a lot of the players he’s been working with and take players from our team, that’s fine by me,” he confirmed.

England failed to get past the group stage of the last Under-21 tournament, finishing bottom without a point. Spain are the holders having beaten Italy in the 2013 final, but La Rojita didn’t qualify for next year’s competition, losing in the play-offs to Serbia.

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