In the battle between club and country, the players always end up as the losers and it is a shame that an Arsenal Ladies youngster has been prevented from attending a UEFA competition for the second year in a row.
England u19s are currently in Sweden playing their Elite Round.
They are trying to qualify for the 2016 Euro finals that will be played in Slovakia. There are many players missing from the original list disclosed by the FA last month, all but one of them due to injury.
The England team travelled on Saturday to Sweden and Leah Williamson, who was selected for the tournament, was not there as she was playing on Sunday in the FA Women’s Cup tie against Notts County Ladies.
It is not the first time that Arsenal Ladies have not released a youngster for an international tournament or qualifier. I
f you remember last season, Leah Williamson and Carla Humphrey did not take part into the U19 finals played in Israel as they stayed in England to play with the first team.
Subsequently, England failed to advance from the group stage and missed out on a chance to play at the FIFA 2016 U20 World Cup.
To be fair, FIFA rules and regulations on international call-ups clearly specify the compulsory release dates for players to their national teams and youth tournaments are not part of it.
Therefore, Arsenal Ladies are correct in not allowing players to attend camps and youth tournaments – something they obviously cannot do for senior internationals, even if it is sometimes outside FIFA dates.
For example, England played an International friendly last year at MK Dons against the world’s number 1 side, the USA, outside the FIFA release period.
Anita Asante, who plies her trade in Sweden with Rosengard, went back to her club and missed that game.
Funnily enough, she does not get called up often for England these days.
All the FA WSL players stayed and were in the squad for the USA game.
So at senior level, the FA sometimes get the players earlier than the release date and the clubs are more or less forced to comply with it, as the FA WSL is an FA tool to help the England team and many of the players are under central contracts and therefore employed by the FA as well as their clubs.
For the England youth teams, Arsenal can pull players out of the England teams, which is detrimental to the national team and also a missed opportunity for the player to improve by playing quality foreign opposition.
This is clearly a loose-loose situation for the players who are needed by their clubs but also by their country.
In the present case, Leah Williamson is one of the most experienced u19 players of this generation, having also been called up to the u23s and having played many first team games including in the Champions League.
She would certainly be useful against a strong opponent like Sweden and there is no doubt that last Summer, Carla and Leah would have certainly been big assets for the Euro finals.
Denying players an England call-up at youth level can benefit the club in the short term but in the long term, it might not be the best thing to do especially for the players future career with England seniors.