Arsenal seemingly refuse player's international call-up

Lauren James

John Griffiths has named his squad for the upcoming u17 Elite Round and there are two Arsenal players included.

Development team forward, Paige Bailey-Gayle, and first team defensive midfielder, Ava Kuyken, who was on the bench for the Conti Cup final on Wednesday made the squad.

England have a tough draw against Slovenia, Switzerland and hosts Norway. The Group winner will qualify for the finals to be played in Lithuania later this season.

The top three teams will also get a nice sweet cherry on top of their cake with qualification for the FIFA u17 WWC, to be played in November in Uruguay, also awarded.

There is a surprising non-selection for the Arsenal midfielder, Lauren James, who was born in 2001 and is therefore eligible for this age group. You do wonder why she has not been called up? Disciplinary reasons or a refusal from the club to release her?

It is surely the latter with Arsenal playing two important games in the race for a Champions League place against Sunderland (away) and Chelsea (home) at the same time as the Elite Round games.

With so many injuries in the team, Kuyken and James are regulars in the 18-player first team squad. In a way, it makes sense to keep James available as she is a sometimes-starter and an important player from the bench.

Should England make it to the finals in Lithuania, I don’t expect James to be released then either, as Arsenal will be playing their final two League games of the season against Man City and Bristol.