Gregory's England dream
Wednesday, 09 February, 2011
Midfielder Steven Gregory hopes to gain his first cap on home soil tonight.
International Challenge Trophy
Kenilworth Road, Luton Town FC
7.30pm, Wednesday 9 February 2011
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Domestic rivalries will be put to one side tonight when England C take on Belgium at Kenilworth Road in the International Challenge Trophy (ICT) semi-final.
AFC Wimbledon and Luton Town – both battling it out at the top end of the Conference Premier, have provided a number of players for Paul Fairclough’s squad, but for the likes of Dons regular Steven Gregory it is only England’s progression to the tournament final that will be of interest come kick-off.
“As a kid you dream of playing in the Premier League and wearing an England shirt so I guess this is the next best thing,” said the 23-year-old from Aylesbury.
“I feel very fortunate to be playing for England C and representing the Conference. We’re all players from outside the Football League so there’s no big time Charlie egos in the squad. It’s a real pleasure to meet up with this group of players because everyone is so happy to be there.”
With three caps to his name, Gregory’s experience with the C squad has been positive so far and much of that is to do with the good working relationship he has enjoyed with Fairclough.
“The boss makes us stand up in the first team meeting and you have to introduce yourself to the squad and talk about yourself for a bit. It’s a great icebreaker, to be fair, and helps generate the team spirit that we’ve got.
“Both Paul and his coach, Steve Burr, are very hands on when it comes to England C training. Everyone feels part of the sessions and it helps generate some friendly competition for places in the side.”
And Gregory is keen to add to his current international tally.
“I’ve started in every game I’ve been selected for but I’ve not actually played for the team on home soil yet so hopefully I’ll be involved [against Belgium],” he said.
Unfortunately, Fairclough has been forced to make three changes at short notice to his squad.
Influential skipper, Kyle McFadzean, has been forced out by illness whilst Liam Brownhill also pulled out of the squad. To make matters worse, Luton Town’s Robbie Willmott took a knock in training and was forced to withdraw.
These three have been replaced by Josh Coulson (Cambridge United FC), Paul Bignot (Newport County) and Jack Byrne (Kidderminster Harriers).
Admission for tonight's game will be £5 for adults with concessions at £1. For more information call Luton Town’s ticket office on 01582 416976.