Being part of an international squad at a prestigious tournament has been described as an experience that will enhance the knowledge and develop the thinking of two young Brentford players.
Brentford B goalkeeper Ellery Balcombe and defender Chris Mepham have been at the Toulon Tournament over the past ten days. Ellery is part of the England squad that play a semi-final against Scotland this afternoon while Chris was in a Wales squad that was eliminated at the group stage despite being unbeaten. Andy Scott, Brentford FC Head of Recruitment, has been in Toulon to watch the tournament and said there have been positive reports on both players.
Ellery and Chris both made one appearance in the tournament while Theo Archibald, another Brentford B player, was part of the initial Scotland squad for the competition. Andy, speaking to brentfordfc.com, said having three players selected for the event was a huge achievement for the Club. He said the name of Brentford is being discussed in international circles and that was a great credit to those working with the players.
“The Toulon Tournament has always been regarded as a prestigious tournament,” said Andy. “Looking at the top-quality players who have played in it in their early careers shows that it is a well-respected tournament that allows young players to improve their experience of tournament football against players of equal standard from all over the world. For any Club to have three players selected is a huge achievement. It shows that the B Team plan is working.
“The players and the Club as a whole are being recognised for the progression made this season. Credit must be given to all B Team staff, Rob Rowan as well as Dean Smith and the First Team coaching staff for recognising the quality that is being produced and having the conviction to blood youngsters in the First Team too.”
The tournament is officially for Under-20 teams but England have sent a mixed-age squad with Ellery, just 17, and other members of the Under-19 and Under-18 squads included. Andy said the clash with the Under-20 World Cup has enabled younger players to take part and that will benefit those players, such as Ellery.
“There have been some very talented youngsters playing this year,” he said. “You only have to look at the depth of the French full squad to see that teams like that have numerous players even in younger age groups capable of performing at the highest level. When a player comes to a tournament like this they have different experiences. There are different coaching techniques, time away from home, different analysis and they experience training with players from other environments. This will all help Chris and Ellery and both are intelligent enough to use the time to improve themselves on and off the pitch and recognise what more they have to do to stay at that level.
“Playing against teams from different parts of the world will be a new experience, tactically and physically. Plus, the standard of some of the opposition will be different to what they're normally used to. Any new experience like that should enhance their knowledge and develop their thinking about the game which will be essential in their progression into a regular First Team player, which is what we all hope they'll achieve.
“Both have had very positive reports. Ellery could be involved in a semi-final, a big game against Scotland will improve his mentality and concentration. With Meps, the fact that he has been selected and played a positive part in the tournament should make him realise the real potential he has as well as the areas he needs to improve. Both are very level headed young men who accept information well and recognise areas of weakness and are prepared to work on them. It's always a pleasure to talk about their performances and discuss football with them, a credit to themselves, their families and the Club.”
As well as keeping an eye on Chris and Ellery, there were other benefits for Andy in being at the tournament.
“It's always good to keep an eye on our own players,” he explained. “Seeing that in alien environments gives me more detail about their mentality and professionalism than anything and you can identify how naturally they adapt to the surroundings. On a personal note, scouts, agents and clubs all have representatives at a tournament like Toulon so networking and gaining valuable information on players and possible targets is just as important as watching Brentford players and them knowing that we are monitoring their development. On top of that it is always a privilege to represent our Club and hopefully my presence at the matches will help promote our name and standing in the game on an international stage.”