Mason: Europa League experience will help Spurs’ young talents to perform for England
Ryan Mason believes Tottenham’s involvement in the Europa League will help their young homegrown talents when they are selected for England – and the midfielder is aiming to earn a return to Roy Hodgson’s squad.
Four Spurs players are in the 23-man group as the Three Lions prepare to play friendlies against Spain tomorrow (Friday) and Hugo Lloris’ France on Tuesday.
Eric Dier has been called up to the senior squad for the first time, while Dele Alli has been selected for the second time in a row, alongside Harry Kane and Kyle Walker.
And, although the Europa League is sometimes viewed as a second-rate, energy-sapping competition which undermines English teams’ Premier League campaigns, Mason feels the experience of facing continental clubs is useful preparation for the step up to the international game.
“The Europa League is massive, it’s a top European competition and I’m sure the experience that players gain from playing in it will only benefit them when they get called up for playing internationals,” said the midfielder.
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“If I’m honest I’ve not played much Europa League football but you could say it’s more similar to international football.
“It’s more of a more tactical game and a bit slower – teams tend to sit off and play counter-attacking football. It’s different to the Premier League and hopefully I can get more game time to see what it’s like.”
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Mason made his England debut in April and was initially selected for the international friendlies in June before suffering a knee injury in training.
After a strong start to the season, he was chosen for September’s Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino and Switzerland.
However, he did not get onto the pitch and then suffered another knee injury while scoring the winning goal at Sunderland, ruling him out for eight Spurs matches as well as England’s final qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania in October.
Mason has returned to find Dier and Alli in fine form, and being picked ahead of him with both Tottenham and England – but he is viewing the situation positively as the trio all eye seats on the plane for the Three Lions’ Euro 2016 campaign in France next summer.
“It’s great, we’re young English lads,” said Mason. “It would be nice if all three of us are in there. We’ll see what happens. It’s good for the club as well to have young English players, I’m sure the fans love to see it as well and it’s good to be part of.
“The injury was unfortunate but that’s part of football. I’m sure if I can get back to the form I was in, if not better, then I’ll get called up again.
“It was frustrating, it came at a bad time. I couldn’t even enjoy the goal – but I couldn’t prevent it, it was an impact injury, and things like that happen.”
Few predicted that Alli would have such an impact so early in his Spurs career, and Mason said: “Dele’s been brilliant. He’s a young lad, he’s come from League One last year and he’s made the step up with ease. He’s excelled and done well for the team.
“I was aware of him before he joined us, he was scoring goals almost every week when he was at MK Dons last year. He’s chipped in with a couple this year and I’m sure he’s going to get a few more.
“He’s a grounded lad, he’s doing well. He has the right people around him with the gaffer, the management staff and the players to keep him level-headed and keep him playing well.”
Asked whether the youthful element to Spurs’ squad means they have less fear than some of their rivals, Mason said: “You could say so, at the same time you could say there’s less experience – but it can only benefit us. We had a good season last year and we seem to have started this year well. Hopefully we can continue progressing.
“We’re a young team, we’re building together and we’re learning as a team. As each week goes by I feel we’re getting stronger and closer together as a team as well and that’s important.
“Last year we got to a final and we got a taste of what the big games are like. Hopefully if we could get back to there we can learn from that experience and go one better.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs