'A big achievement'
Wednesday, 18 May, 2011
Boss Paul Fairclough now wants his side to go one further and win ICT.
England C boss Paul Fairclough takes his troops into action tonight, as they face Portugal in the International Challenge Trophy Final in Northampton.
The Three Lions beat Belgium in the semi-final to secure their place in the showpiece and Fairclough is now hoping that his side can go one further and lift the Trophy in front of a home crowd at the Sixfields Stadium.
“Just getting here is a really big achievement because the opposition we have played have been really good teams,” said Fairclough ahead of the game.
“Travelling to Estonia and playing a side with players who had been around their first team and played a different style of football was not easy, and then beating Giovanni Trapattoni’s shadow U23 squad over in Ireland was a massive achievement that no-one expected us to do.
“Then beating Belgium at Luton in the semi-final was a terrific result, the side we beat has been heralded as the future of Belgian football and we managed to beat them, which was fantastic.”
With his squad selected from players outside of the professional pyramid and all aged U23, Fairclough often has to chop and change his squads over the course of the season with player availability altering with every transfer window as Football League clubs often look to snap up the best of the non-League talent in England.
“What you have to remember is the team has changed so much as well, because it has been played over two seasons and three transfer windows,” he explained.
“So it is a testament to these guys and how they have come in and hit the ground running and their prize is this game against Portugal, which we’re really excited about.
“The standard of football in the Conference is improving all the time there’s no question about that and this is a strong group of players.
“Our resources will be stretched again as the game is being played two days before the Conference Play-Off Final so that means we have lost players for this match.
“The nucleus of the side that played against Belgium won’t be there, so it’s a real opportunity for new players coming in. We have seen them come into the squad in the past and grab hold of the opportunity so it will be another changed side and a chance for the new players.”