Blind squad named for trip to Finals in Turkey.
It’s a big day for the England Blind team with Tony Larkin announcing his squad for next week’s 2011 IBSA European Championship in Turkey and the side set to feature in a Channel Four Paralympic documentary, Best of British, at 10pm this evening.
The ten-man squad retains the core of last year’s World Championship side and sees a return for former England skipper, Darren Harris, who is back in the international fold after competing in judo at Beijing 2008.
Joining the 34-year-old Harris in the squad are youngsters Lee Brunton and Owen Bainbridge and Larkin is quietly confident that the trio can help England reach the semi-final stages of the European Championship at the very least.
“Darren’s back with us now after committing himself to judo at the last Paralympics and we’re delighted as he’s continued playing football at club level and scored 25 goals from West Brom last season," he said.
“The likes of Lee and Owen bring some youth to the side and it’s those lads that will be the future of blind football after London 2012.”
England have been drawn against Germany, Italy and European champions, France, in the group stages with World Championship runners up, Spain, joined by Turkey, Greece and Russia.
The top two from each group will go through to the semi-finals with the final taking place in Anksary on 3 October.
Larkin added: “We finished as runners-up to France at the 2009 European Championship but have a decent win-loss record against them historically while we’ve never lost to Germany or Italy.
“Having said that, both of those nations are developing all the time and Italy proved to be decent opposition when we played them at a friendly tournament in Madrid earlier this month, so we’ll need to be at our best for all three group games.”
Wednesday evening’s Blind football documentary on Channel Four features England’s Dave Clarke and Robin Williams and comes on the back of last week’s London 2012 Paralympic ticket sales launch which saw the Blind squad beat a Sky Sports team featuring Chris Kamara, Ray Wilkins, Matt Le Tissier and Paul Merson in a penalty shoot-out in Trafalgar Square.
England Blind Squad
Lewis Skyers – Sighted GK, Dan James – Sighted GK, Dave Clarke, Jonathan Gribbin, Robin Williams, Owen Bainbridge, Lee Brunton, Keryn Seal, Dan English, Darren Harris.