Bradford City youth-team coach Steve Thornber adds to chorus of disapproval

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Oliver McBurnie has progressed through the City youth-team ranks Oliver McBurnie has progressed through the City youth-team ranks

Steve Thornber fears that youngsters at clubs such as City would find their progress blocked if the controversial plan to feed B teams into the Football League pyramid ever took off.

Opposition is still growing since an FA think-tank last month suggested that top-flight clubs should be allowed to field a second team in the lower divisions.

The Football League’s annual meeting takes place in Portugal tomorrow, with the radical idea sure to be a hot topic.

The ‘against League 3’ campaign has won almost universal support from those outside the Premier League, with concerns over the impact such tinkering would have on the established system beneath the elite.

The thinking behind the proposal – that it will help to improve the overall standard of the England national side – does not wash with Thornber.

The Valley Parade youth-team coach, who has seen Oliver McBurnie and Niall Heaton elevated to the senior ranks, can only envisage more obstacles placed in the way of other young hopefuls following suit.

He said: “I honestly can’t see this happening because so many people are against it. But it would definitely be a hindrance for our youth system.

“It’s okay for the top teams to offload younger players to get stronger lower down the pyramid. But for our lads there would be no way to go, apart from down, to gain experience.

“It might work well for Spain and places like that, where they’ve got the B leagues established. But those countries do not have the strength in depth in the pyramid system that we have with 72 Football League clubs.

“Something has got to change but I don’t see this as a way forward.”

Thornber believes the best way of improving England’s next generation is to stop allowing players to duck out of age-group international football. Stuart Pearce complained fiercely during his stint as under-21 coach about the number of withdrawals.

“We’ve just won the under-17s European Championships, so the talent is there,” said Thornber.

“The last time we won it was four years ago and you look at the team from then. Andre Wisdom played in that game, along with the likes of Ross Barkley.

“From that 18-man squad, there are about a dozen who played Premier League football last year.

“My argument all along in every youth tournament is to field the strongest players available.

“Stuart Pearce was right. The reason England keep losing under-21 tournaments is that they aren’t taking their strongest teams.

“Wayne Rooney, when he was eligible, didn’t go because he was fast-tracked to the first team.

“That would never happen in Spain or Germany, where they play at every age group. That’s why we don’t win trophies.”

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