Brighton & Hove Albion first-team coach Nathan Jones expressed his pride at helping England’s under-21s prepare for their crucial Euro 2017 qualifier against Switzerland at the Amex.
Jones previously assisted Gareth Southgate in the side’s preparations for last summer’s finals and he did not have to think twice about the opportunity to be involved again.
He said, “Gareth came down here the other day to have a look around and asked if I wanted to do what I did in the summer again.
“It was a great experience for me to be involved in such an elite group and I couldn’t really turn that down.
“Now there is a bit of downtime for us at the club, it worked out very well and it’s even more special because we’re getting to do it at the training ground in a place that I love to work.
“I feel very privileged to be asked again.”
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The Welshman highlighted the key differences between coaching on the international scene as opposed to club level.
“With the Albion first team, you get to know the players on a personal level. It’s your bread and butter and it’s part of your daily routine.
“Whereas these are a young, elite group of players and there’s a different vibe when they all come together.
“There’s a certain freshness when they meet up. There are slight differences, but both teams train at the same level. They have the same qualities, but this is an elite group in terms of having the best young players in the country.”
Jones has been delighted by the progress made by Albion trio Christian Walton, Jake Forster-Caskey and Solly March and believes all three players have a bright future in the game.
“They’ve done fantastically well. We bought Christian from Plymouth as a youngster and had high hopes for him.
“He’s had a few games for us and had a recent loan spell. He’s developing into what we thought he would become.
“Jake is one of the most experienced 21-year-olds you’ll see in terms of the games he’s played. He has a jokey air about him but is a serious thinker and is serious about his football. He’s been involved with the under-21s for quite a while and was a real lynchpin of what they did to qualify for the championships.
“Solly is a bit younger, but he has done well for us at Albion and hopefully he’ll get a few opportunities to play for the under-21s and show what he can do for England.
“We’re very proud of all of our international players, but the younger lads are excellent. They conduct themselves very well.”