After Gareth Southgate's young England charges qualified this week to play in next year's European Under-21 tournament in the Czech Republic, with a solid 4-2 aggregate victory over Croatia, the debate over which players to take has come back into the thoughts of many people in footballing circles. It is something that splits opinion, some people seeing the under-21s as merely a stepping stone to the senior side (and no more than that), others viewing the opportunity to win any tournament for your nation as reason enough to ensure that the best players that are eligible to play do so. Doubtless the arguments for and against will continue to be aired right up until the final squads have been announced (and beyond, depending on how successful both the youth and senior teams are), so just why is this something that gets people so hot under the collar ?

The opportunity to wear your country's colours, especially to represent them in a major competition, is something that any young footballer aspires to.

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Asking them if they would want to be a part of the finals is likely to be met with a positive response, as echoed by current full internationals, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain's comments on the subject recently.

Of course it isn't always as straightforward as that, as the player's club manager may feel that to compete in a summer competition after a long domestic season could lead to "burn out" from playing too many matches at too tender an age. An older, more physically strong player may be able to handle the extra workload, but a still developing youngster might pick up injuries as a result. Club sides do have the technology now to monitor their players to guard against this possibility and have been known to 'spell' their players if they feel the risk of excess fatigue is possible.

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Besides the physical fatigue, there is also the potential for mental fatigue caused by the stress of too many high pressure games at too young an age and a summer break is often just as beneficial from this viewpoint as the physical side. Some players may argue to the contrary, that when they get a run of games behind them that their form becomes more consistent, so would want to play on.

On the positive side for being included in any summer tournament is the potential for success and the confidence that brings going forward. There is also the potential for development of a team ethic from getting to know their fellow internationals earlier on to enhance their future understanding in the senior ranks, while playing in the 'cauldron' of tournament competition . The downside could be that the team has a poor experience and may be knocked out early on, as occurred in the last World Cup finals for the seniors and to a similar degree for the last European Under-21 tournament when England lost all three games in Israel.

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However, most one agree that it's better to be in the competition in the first place and have a chance of success, and the better the squad at your disposal then the better the chance of doing well.

How should the under-21s' team be viewed in terms of its "purpose" ? If the set up is consistent with the seniors and the pattern of play developed with the style the seniors are looking to use, then it has its merits. Clearly it gives the young player something to aim for while playing for their club side and a first step towards senior caps, as many will not be viewed as sufficiently physically mature to take their place against the stronger seniors. There are exceptions of course as has been seen in recent years by the progress made by such as Michael Owen, Raheem Sterling, Jack Wilshere and the current England captain, Wayne Rooney, who all played for the senior side in their teenage years.

Once a player has appeared for the senior side at international level, should they ever go back to the under-21s level, even if it is just to appear in the finals themselves as has been mentioned for such as Wilshere, Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and a number of the other talented youngsters that still qualify? That is probably one for the individuals concerned as to how they would feel about such a move, although one would probably suggest that those three had progressed sufficiently to view themselves as 'seniors' now who had developed beyond the boundaries of the youth set up. If they were to get injured during the current season though and lost domestic game time (and also effectively their senior international place), they may relish the chance to come back towards the end of the domestic season and then tack on the summer tournament to build themselves back up leading into 2016, when they would hope to be back competing for the senior version of the Euros. Their club managers may view it differently though and feel that complete recovery would not be aided by extra summer games. #Football

What are the lessons from the rest of Europe in terms of star seniors who came through the youth ranks first? Judging by the history books and past under-21 European Championships, there have been a number of players including Rudi Voller from Germany (1982), France's Laurent Blanc (1988) and Fabio Cannavaro of Italy (1996) who were Under-21 Golden players (player of the tournament) who haven't done too badly in the senior ranks, judging by the fact that they have all gone on to World Cup success. Maybe England could match their success by including Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sterling et al in the 2015 squad for the Euro Under-21s ?