Sir Trevor Brooking admits Jack Wilshere’s success has brought the wider failings of England’s age-group system into sharp focus.
Wilshere, an intelligent midfielder, enjoyed a breakthrough season with Arsenal and made a composed senior England debut at the age of 19. After much debate over the risks of burnout, Wilshere withdrew from England’s Under-21 European Championship squad - and Stuart Pearce’s side have been bereft of craft and invention.
England battled to an opening draw with Spain and they were held to an uninspiring goalless draw by the Ukraine on Wednesday.
Brooking, the Football Association’s development director, is frustrated that creativity is overlooked at age-group level in favour of safety-first football.
He believes that philosophy is wrong and is anxious to transform England’s academy structure to be more like Spanish giants Barcelona’s remarkable set-up.
“Before the tournament we said the challenge would be to score goals. Creativity and subtlety in the final third is probably something neglected in all the age groups,” said Brooking. “That is something we have to transform in academies. One of the key areas is playing in between opposing players, looking forward or diagonally.”
Chesterfield have completed their first signing of the summer in left-back Nathan Smith. He has arrived from Yeovil Town where he has been a regular for the last three and a half years
The left sider said: “My aim now is to reach the play-offs, or even promotion. Chesterfield are a team on the up and I want to be a part of that.”