Manager Paul Fairclough is eagerly anticipating his team's first home game since late 2006.
England v Wales
International Challenge Trophy, Group A
7.45pm, Wednesday 20 February 2008
St James' Park, Exeter City FC
Ticket Office on 01392 411243 England C Manager Paul Fairclough admits he can’t wait to see his side get back into action on home soil on Wednesday night when they take on Wales at Exeter City.
With a sizeable crowd expected at St.James’ Park for the match, Fairclough is hoping that the Three Lions can put on a good show and pick up a win.
After winning their first game in the International Challenge Trophy against Finland in Helsinki last November, Fairclough knows that a victory against the Welsh could set England up with a potential Group A decider against Italy from which the winners would progress to the Final next year.
The players know the importance of their task too, but Fairclough believes that his side will be taking to the field intent on putting on a show for the fans.
“One thing which all fans will see from the moment the players take to the pitch is the passion and the pride on show,” said Fairclough, ahead of the game.
“Because they are playing for the Three Lions and their country, that will be noticeable from the word go.
“We want to try and play good football and entertain the crowd at the same time, because that is what football is all about.
“It is about the supporters and it is about winning games, so if you can get that combination right, you’ve got the formula for success and hopefully that can be the case.”
With this being England C’s first home game since November 2006 when Holland were on the end of a 4-1 defeat at Burton, Fairclough admits it is something else for everyone involved to look forward to.
“It is our first home game of the competition after our trip to Finland last November and we’re all very much looking forward to the match and playing in front of a home crowd,” he added.
“That backing can be so important to the players and I think that Exeter is a perfect place for us to be playing at, because I am led to believe that we will be getting a lot of support.
“It’s a bit of a football hotbed in this part of the world and my experiences of coming down to Exeter in the past have always been good ones and I think the crowd will be really important to us in this game.”
Fairclough has had to make two changes to his squad since the weekend, with striker Matt Tubbs of Salisbury City having to pull out due to a hamstring injury sustained in their weekend match with Burton Albion.
He was replaced by Chris Hall of Stalybridge Celtic, but when he unfortunately learned of a family bereavement, Fairclough had to call on another of the standby players in the shape of Jeff Goulding from Fisher Athletic.
Squad changes are something that Fairclough is more than used to though, with the players at his disposal constantly changing. Many of them are often snapped up by League clubs in the transfer windows, whilst injuries are obviously restrictive too.
For instance, one of the goalscorers from the win in November, James Constable, is no longer available after sealing a move to League Two side Shrewsbury Town in January.
He joins a long list of former England C players who have gone on to play in the League, such as Junior Agogo, Aaron McLean, DJ Campbell and Craig Mackail-Smith and many of the players on show on Wednesday will be seeing the game as not only a chance to represent their country, but possibly get themselves in the ‘shop window’.
“We’re pleased with the players though and the success that we’ve enjoyed, because the squad is continually changing,” revealed Fairclough.
“We always have to make some changes because the squad selection alters in almost every transfer window. The players that we have lost from the squad for tonight’s game is largely because they’ve moved on to Football League clubs.”
Fairclough is also expecting a tough game from the Welsh too, with many of their players featuring in the Conference National on a regular basis.
“I’m sure they will give us an extremely tough test,” he admitted.
“They went over to Italy for their last match and whilst they lost 4-2, the game was quite tight and they scored two goals, so that was an achievement in itself.
“They will also be very passionate about representing their country and they need to get a result to get themselves back in with a chance of winning the competition.
“We also need to win to make sure that our next game against Italy ends up being like a group final, so we should have a terrific match in prospect.”England C Squad
Lance Cronin (Ebbsfleet United), Adam Bartlett (Blyth Spartans), Daniel Gleeson (Cambridge United), John Brayford (Burton Albion), Michael Morrison (Cambridge United), Ronnie Henry (Stevenage Borough), Liam Brownhill (Witton Albion), Ricky Holmes (Chelmsford City), Ben Harding (Aldershot Town), Dean Moxey (Exeter City), Russell Penn (Kidderminster Harriers), Lewis Chalmers (Aldershot Town), Mitchell Cole (Stevenage Borough), Scott Rendell (Cambridge United), Shaun Harrad (Burton Albion), Jeff Goulding** (Fisher Athletic)
* Chris Hall replaces Matt Tubbs
** Replaces Chris Hall