Mark Lawrenson: Young English players overpaid and not hungry

Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate has been England Under-21 boss since August 2013

Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson was at all three of England's group games at the European Under-21 Championship. Here he tells BBC Sport that big wages have made young English players less hungry about playing for their country, but believes Gareth Southgate should keep his job as England Under-21 manager.

England would have won it 'by miles' with the right players

England were without the likes of winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, forward Raheem Sterling, midfielder Ross Barkley and defender Luke Shaw.

"They would win it with the top players by miles. They seriously would. Those players in midfield or up front would have won this competition very, very easily."

Too much too early

"The moment these lads show any innate ability they get too much money too early I'm afraid.

"Before these kids hit the money trail, they want it absolutely. The problem is as soon as they get their first deal, unless they have been brought up properly to respect things like that, they have no chance.

Raheem Sterling
Liverpool have formally rejected a second bid from Manchester City for 20-year-old forward Raheem Sterling

"Look at Raheem Sterling at Liverpool. He is the perfect example of getting it wrong.

"He has decided he doesn't want to play for Liverpool. He said it is not about the money. Why would he want to leave Liverpool? Only the season before last they nearly won the league. What is that about? Where is he getting that advice from?"

"The problem for clubs is if you don't pay £25,000-£30,000 a week, or whatever it is, somebody else will pay it.

"It is very difficult how you can stop it.

"You are relying on young players to have been brought up properly by their mothers and fathers, to invest in themselves in terms of training, staying behind, practice, practice, practice.

Should Gareth Southgate lose his job?

Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate wants to stay as England Under-21 boss despite their group-stage exit from the European Under-21 Championship

"No, it is really difficult for him.

"They qualified, they were unbeaten, and they looked a really good side. He lost his top scorer in Saido Berahino while defender John Stones missed the first two games after suffering concussion in training.

"He has got a good bunch of players in terms of the dynamics of the squad but the other night against Sweden seven of the staring XI played the majority of their games in the Championship last season.

"They have done extremely well to get here but, when they have got here, in a tough group, they have bombed."

Football Association should 'test' the desire of players to represent England

"It wasn't good from England but the bigger picture is that the Football Association has to decide whether they make some of their top players go to the tournament.

"The majority of Southgate's squad ply their trade in the Championship so it was great experience for them but I would have to ask the question of how many of them are going to make the progression to the full national team.

"Tottenham striker Harry Kane is already there, Everton defender John Stones, I think he will make it, and maybe the goalkeeper Jack Butland, but looking at the others I'm not sure anybody will.

"The FA has got to ask whether they are going to take these tournaments seriously and try to win them to gain that experience or are we just going to blood a younger crop, from whom maybe one or two will make it but the majority will not.

"Two years ago in Israel when Stuart Pearce was in charge there were 13 or 14 who could have come but didn't.

"The FA should say we are going to pick you and the player's club manager might go absolutely mad. Test them.

"Say to the player 'do you really want to play for England or do you just want to pick your money up in the Premier League? If that's what they want let them do it."

Premier League 'far bigger' than playing for England Under-21s

"The bigger picture is all these players they left at home because their clubs didn't want them to come.

"Their clubs are saying the Premier League is a far bigger deal than England Under-21s doing well.

"But it is what England need.

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Kane 'gutted' after Euro U21 exit

"If you are successful and your top players are there, then they go to play for the full national team with a winning experience of playing in a tournament where you play three games in six or seven days.

"What do the majority of club supporters want?

"They want their Premier League clubs to be successful. Do they want England to be successful? Are they bothered?"

Mark Lawrenson was talking to BBC Sport's Mike Henson