Iron professional development coach Paul Harsley completed a week coaching England Under-17’s last week.He was invited by former Scunthorpe United full back John Peacock, who manages the side, to St. George’s Park to take part in the week, which involved the international starlets playing in a three game tournament over the course of the week.
“I got invited by John, who is the England Under-17’s manager,” Harsley explained to Scunthorpe-United.co.uk.
“It was just to spend the week with them really. I joined up with the England players at St. George’s Park and there was a three game tournament going on. In that week, we play Czech Republic, Portugal and Italy, so it was a great experience and one which I really enjoyed.
“I was quite honoured to be asked. I’ve been on a course with the FA, which is their new flagship Level Five course. On their, you bump into the coaches of the international set-up. It is run by the England Under-18 coach and all of the age group coaches drop in.”
He added: “The course has been going great for me, so I think it was maybe some recognition that I’d been doing quite well.”
Harsley commended the regime’s professionalism and declared it an eye-opening experience
“I went down on the Monday, and we trained Monday morning and afternoon and then Tuesday morning,” he continued.
“Then there was three games, so after that there wasn’t a great deal of training, mainly recovery time. The whole experience was great and you can see the professionalism all-round.
“They have staff of around ten people, including analysts, sports scientists, doctors and physios, so it was extensive. The professionalism of it was first class. I don’t think that was surprising, but working at a smaller club like Scunthorpe United on a daily basis, it is a lot different to what we do.”
Having been given a chance to coach the top flight’s up-and-coming players, Harsley – by his own admission – will closely monitor the players he met and got to know over the course of the week.
“They’re all from bigger clubs,” he declared.
“There was at least one from Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City – all of the big Premier League clubs. There was one lad who has played in Germany as well with Stuttgart, but they all showed their technical abilities.
“England are trying to promote a new way of playing – a DNA for England as they call it. Gareth Southgate was there getting involved and I think they are trying to implement a lot of new stuff – hopefully to try and make England better as a senior team.”
With the Premier League getting more and more competitive and young player’s development taking their course through peaks and troughs, whether of not those names will feature in the top flight of English football remains to be seen – although the Scunthorpe United coach and former player hopes to see some of those names hit teamsheets in the future.
“There’s a big turnover,” said Harsley.
“The good thing about being in a Premier League club for them now is the use of the facilities and being recognised for their country. The big thing is to try and break through into their domestic club’s first teams, which will be really hard.
“You’ve seen this week with the transfer window, the amount of fees and wages that are spent, it’s hard for any young players to break through. Hopefully (it can happen), obviously I will keep track of them now, because I’ve got to know them and that would be good for me.”
He added: “Hopefully, some of them will play at the highest level.”
Now returning to Scunthorpe, Harsley admitted he is looking forward to attempting to implement a number of new ideas with regards to training and methods.
“I enjoyed the whole thing,” he said.
“It opened my eyes to – like I said – the professionalism of it all. I’ve got one or two ideas from the sessions that I saw and hopefully I’ll be able to implement some of those with the Scunthorpe under eighteen players.”