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I know that a 20-year old football player can play for his senior national team, but after playing in a match for the senior team can he return to play for the "youth" team?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Yes of course he can. As long as he is eligible in terms of his age, he can play for the under-21 team despite having played for his senior national team as well.

A recent example is Harry Kane. He made his senior international debut for England against Lithuania on 27th March, 2015. Later, in June 2015, he played for the England under-21 side at the under-21 European Championships.

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The doubt of this question is about Martin Ødegaard that seems has played his last U21 match in 2014 before his debut in Norway senior team – Ale Feb 22 at 18:38
    
@Ale Maybe Real Madrid didn't want Odegaard to get exhausted by playing too much (and risking injury or fatigue). It was reported that Mauricio Pochettino was unhappy that Kane played 90 minutes in every match the England side played at the European under-21 championships. – ʀᴇᴅ_ᴅᴇᴠɪʟ226 Feb 22 at 19:35

Yes they can, and this happens rather often to young talents who are eligible for more than one national team. Until the player shows up at the senior team, he can still change his mind and play for another national side.

So in order to "snatch" a rising star, a national team manager might call him up on the senior squad typically for a friendly match.

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-1 A player can play a friendly with the senior team, even without commiting to the nation. He needs to play a tournament match, or a qualifer to be "snatched up". – Don_Biglia Mar 7 at 8:48

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