Just imagine a team that contains Caitlin Foord, Stephanie Catley, Teigen Allen, Brianna Davey and Alanna Kennedy.  No, not for the Matildas, but for the Young Matildas.

When Spencer Prior's team departed for the AFC U19s Championships late last week, these five eligible players were left behind; as well a fierce battle that has brewed for the past six months.

Behind the scenes there is a contentious debate occurring in relation to what is best for the development of our brightest young footballers.

In relation to the senior national team, Australian coaches have always employed the adage "If you are good enough, you are old enough."  As a result, a raft of players have found themselves in the Matildas at an age where in other countries it would be another half a dozen years before they got a look in. At least.

Consequently, the lines between the U17s, U20s and the Matildas have been blurred or, arguably erased completely.

So the question is; once a player ascends to a senior team, should they ever return back to a junior team?

Or to put it another way, should the abovementioned five have been on that plane to China on Saturday?

In an ideal world the answer would be resolutely no.

In this world, let's call it Germany, players would be advanced through the system on more than potential but on a proven track record after years of working their way up the pathway.  There would also be three distinct teams, with the development system producing enough players to provide depth at all levels.

In this instance, the player that arrived at the national team would be close to the finished product with only refining, not substantial education, required.

In relation to the question of the five playing in the qualifiers, Camp A believes that they should not be returning to the Young Matildas and many  of the arguments are persuasive.

Overloading injuries and physical and mental burnout of players have been some of the past consequences of shifting players between different national teams with many lost to the game for good.  This is a result that should be avoided at all costs.

Then there is the educational aspect. Where will players learn more? At that junior level, when they are already identified as part of that exceptional group, or at the senior level where they are testing themselves game after game, sometimes out of their depth and other times holding their own.

Then finally there is this question; in muddying the pools do you then prevent the ability to identify and develop the next Foord, Catley or Davey?

These five are already known entities. Why prevent the ability for another player to develop to hopefully become another talent in the larger pool.

Camp A's argument is probably best summed up as "why send a university student back to high school?"

Camp B's argument is that Australia is not that ideal world described above and we need to adapt accordingly.  They cite the educational value of the five participating in the tournament.

It's well documented that our women's national teams do not play enough matches.  In fact we are lucky to get 10 - 12 a calendar year.  As a result, our teams are always chasing match fitness and our players find it tougher to gain the game sense and awareness that can only come from playing.

If these five players had been part of the Matildas and Young Matildas camps for the last six months they would have ended up playing a potential 26 matches in this calendar year.

Additionally, they would have played in two tournament situations including one which would be a World Cup qualifier with matches against DPR Korea, South Korea and Japan; who were all, at a minimum, quarter finalists at the last U20 World Cup.  Gaining tournament experience ahead of the 2014 Asian Cup would be bonus and potentially gaining World Cup experience, even if it is a youth World Cup, would be invaluable.

Granted, says Camp B, their loads would have to be managed and carefully monitored but playing international football would have to have been more beneficial than playing State League women's football over the winter.

They also argue that some players, for various reasons are elevated to the senior team too early. Should those players never return to the youth teams? Isn't keeping them at the senior level, and them not receiving adequate game time, detrimental to their development and confidence?

Two camps divided.  In this scenario, the compromise was the availability of two players; neither of which were selected through injury and unavailability.

It still leaves the question; what is in the best interests of the footballer?

In my humble opinion, there should be no hard and fast rule...yet.  It should be a case by case assessment and determination with the development of the footballer paramount.

As to the blurring of the lines? Again when it is warranted.  Unfortunately Australia don't have the luxury of an abundance of matches and it may be of benefit to let some of these eligible youth players participate in as many high quality international games as possible.

What are your thoughts?