Paul Fairclough looks back on the Caribbean trip and what has been a successful season for his team.
The England C squad arrived home from their trip to the Caribbean on Wednesday morning, after what had been an eye opening experience for everyone involved.
Paul Fairclough and his squad first headed to the island of Grenada last week, where they trained and coached with local youngsters before taking on the Grenadan national side at the National Stadium in St.George’s on Saturday.
After that, it was on to Barbados for another game on Monday night before returning to England on Tuesday after what has been a hectic few weeks for the C squad.
It started with three games in the Four Nations Tournament in north Wales in May, as Fairclough’s team successfully defended the title by collecting victories against Gibraltar, Scotland and Wales whilst not conceding a goal in the process.
That all adds up to complete what has been a successful and unbeaten campaign for Fairclough’s team, who have also been going well in the International Challenge Trophy which continues next season.
“It’s been a fantastic season for us,” admitted Fairclough, as he prepared to leave the team’s Barbadian base on Tuesday evening.
“This group of players have been together now for something like 18 days for this trip and the Four Nations Tournament.
“To have remained unbeaten this season is a great achievement and we’re in a good position in the International Challenge Trophy for next season too.”
The Caribbean trip was deemed a success too, giving the players further experience of international football and in a different sort of climate to what they’re used to.
“It has been a real experience for all of us,” revealed Fairclough.
“Training and playing in this climate has been an experience in itself.
“For the first game in Grenada, we played at the National Stadium on a tremendous pitch. I think the centre circle was where the cricket wicket was.
“It was a very competitive game too, we started the game slowly because the conditions were baking but we found ourselves finishing the game strongly and we got it tactically right in the second half.
“We hit the woodwork five or six times and really could’ve won that game convincingly, so we were pleased with how the match finished and took that into the next game against Barbados.
“We went for it from the first whistle in that game and got a 2-0 win, but again we were pleased with how we coped with the heat and it was an encouraging performance which we again finished the stronger of the teams.”
The squad’s time in Grenada also saw them partake in some coaching sessions with local youngsters from all over the island and that was part of the trip which Fairclough and the players enjoyed.
“It was a lovely experience, everyone was so enthusiastic and pleased to be taking part in the session,” he said.
“It was strange how the mentality of the youngsters was different depending on where they were from on the island though.
“The children from the north were so carefree and enthusiastic, but the children from the centre were a little more reserved and took time to come out of their shells.
“It was still a terrific experience though and one that we’ll probably never forget.”
The England C team's next scheduled game is against Bosnia-Herzegivina in Sarajevo on 16 September, before they face Italy in the International Challenge Trophy in November.