Blake slams technical criticism

Noel Blake has hit back at claims that England players lack technical ability

Noel Blake has hit back at claims that England players lack technical ability

First published in National Sport © by

England Under-19s head coach Noel Blake maintains the Football Association are always developing technically gifted players - and that "beating us with a big stick" when the senior team comes up short only hinders their work.

The Three Lions' Euro 2012 exit has once more ignited debate over whether England have men of the technical ability to compete alongside the likes of Italian playmaker Andrea Pirlo.

However, Blake, preparing to take his Under-19s to the European Championships in Estonia next week, told Press Association Sport: "When things happen at senior level, people come out and beat us with a big stick. There are a lot of good things going on with football development in England, at the clubs as well as with the national teams."

He added: "Unfortunately people do not see what is going on, they only see what is going on at the top end."

Blake insists the progress of players such as Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck - who netted a superb goal to help beat Sweden in the group stages - and 18-year-old Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, fast-tracked into the senior squad by new boss Roy Hodgson, are proof the talent is there.

"Guys like Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - they didn't come out of thin air, people developed them," Blake said. "Of course we can be better, and those are the things we are focused on rather than saying 'we haven't got this or that.' We have got it, but we know we need to improve all of the way through."

Blake, who had spells with Birmingham, Portsmouth, Leeds and Stoke before moving into coaching, warned continually putting down the ability of English talent can have a detrimental impact.

"I work with the players and it does knock them because they are human beings and have got feelings," said Blake, who took up his role working with youngsters at the FA in 2007"People keep saying 'the English players can't do this 24/7.' The English players can do it."

England's Young Lions head to Tallinn with high hopes of following on from the age-group's success at the 2010 Under-17 European Championships, where they beat Spain in the final. France, Croatia and Serbia await Blake's squad, who could also secure qualification for the 2013 World Cup with a strong performance.

Blake said: "There are no easy games at international level, whatever age group, and we were delighted to have qualified for the finals again. It is going to be tough, we know what we are going to face, but equally I have confidence in our players and believe in them."

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