NEIL REDFEARN successfully made his case this week to the FA for Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook to not be involved in international fixtures for England under-20s and under-18s after being heavily involved so far this season for Leeds United and you can see the sense in him doing that.
It is an interesting one. I would have liked to have known the conversations that went on.
But my reading of it – and I may be totally off the mark – here is that Neil wants them to be with him here at Leeds and be training with the team and the squad now he has just come back in as full-time head coach as it’s an important time for him and them.
During this international break, ahead of the start of a congested programme of games up until Christmas and the New Year, Neil will really be wanting to get his ethos across on all his players during this current fortnight.
He has obviously made a good fist of his argument to the FA by saying that he needs these young lads at Leeds as they are playing in the first-team regularly. Leeds are in a position now where they need to kick on in their season and Neil will have been saying he really needs them at Leeds to be able to do what he wants with them in this international break.
Neil will certainly be conscious that he does not get a lot of time to work with players for long spells due to the fixture programme and will be really wanting to get his training ethics into them.
That would be my reading of it and I do think it is a good move if that is the case.
You also have to be conscious of work-load as a manager.
I don’t know how much they would have been training with the England age-group squads; I know they do a lot of stuff to reduce the amount of time on the football field in terms of doing video analysis etc.
But for Neil, I think it will be more a case of him wanting the young players in with him and they are already really important players for Leeds.
He will have been saying: ‘We are a group in there together now and need to work with each other.’
In that respect, it is far more important for them to be with their club and team-mates to develop that bonding and understanding.
If Lewis and Alex continue as they are, their time will come on the international stage. I am sure he will have spoken to them and maybe their parents to explain what his motives are.
There’s a lot of time for them to progress in the England teams and he will have given them assurances that it will not be to any detriment to their future chances.
Young players probably need the comforting talk and ‘cotton wool’ treatment more than some of the hardened pros who know how to deal with things themselves.
Players will want to play for international teams; you are never, ever going to stop that.
But I think sometimes the international team manager maybe needs to look at the club’s perspective as well.
It’s not a case of maybe saying someone is the best in their position, but also look at what they have done for their clubs and if they have maybe played a lot, come to a decision that they need a rest and better off, once or twice, staying with their club.
That makes sense sometimes. It is just a case of telling the player: ‘I am not going to pick you this time as you have been playing a lot and I think you need to stay with your football club.’
Reading between the lines, I am not sure whether that happens enough.
Last weekend, there were stories suggesting Everton and Aston Villa have been looking at Alex Mowatt and ‘paper talk’ is another thing that can unsettle players, but you cannot help that.
The papers will print what they think is going to be readable.
Obviously Sam Byram has been a target before with clubs linked and bids in for him.
That can sometimes affect a player. But you have to get it back into the players head that they need to get their heads around what is said in the papers and just concentrate on playing to the best of their abilities for their clubs.
I am sure one day if he progresses, Sam will be playing for a top Premier League club and hopefully that will still be with Leeds in there.
Neil also spoke last week about what he viewed to be the mismanagement under previous regimes of Sam and the expectations placed upon him and not putting overdue pressure on players.
It is something to be aware of with young players.
Plenty of players burst onto the scene and get the plaudits, which yes they deserve.
Sam did when he first came into the side as he played exceptionally well and was a breath of fresh air.
Then, the injuries kept him out and that has played a big part in how he has performed since and he has got to fully get over them. It has been a lot for a young player to take in.
Now Neil has to get those performances out of him and if anyone can do that, it is definitely Neil and no-one will know Sam and what he needs better than him after working with him so much during his career so far.