Kenny Swain speaks ahead of Thursday’s Victory Shield clash with Northern Ireland in Blackpool.
England v Northern Ireland
Sky Sports Victory Shield
7.45pm, Thursday 11 October 2007
Blackpool FC, Bloomfield Road
Ticket Hotline 0870 443 1953 (option 1).
England U16s get their season off to a start on Thursday evening when they begin their defence of The Victory Shield with a game against Northern Ireland.
With a new set of players to choose from in this age group, U16 Head Coach Kenny Swain is looking to blood the next generation of potential stars over the three games in the competition.
Whilst England have lifted The Victory Shield for the last six years, the object of the competition remains to be the development of the country’s best young players and Swain knows better than most how that can be achieved.
“We had a training camp at the National Football Centre in Burton over the summer, where we had a close look at many players who could be selected for this age group,” said Swain, ahead of the game at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road.
“Once again, we have talented players to choose from and this selection process is an ongoing exercise.
“The squad for this game will be different no doubt from the next two squads, as we look to give the opportunity to boys who are performing now or showing the potential to represent their country.
“We have a network of scouts across the country watching Academy and Centre Of Excellence games every week to identify emerging talent and monitor current performance.”
The experience of being able to represent the Three Lions itself can act as a tremendous incentive for the players involved and in recent years the likes of Wayne Rooney and Micah Richards have played for U16s before going on to the Senior squad and Swain believes that many of the youngsters on show have the potential to follow in their footsteps.
“To play for England in an international competition such as the Victory Shield will be a great experience at this stage in their early football career,” added Swain.
“All of the players selected over the three games have the possibility and potential of going on to achieve more.
“It will also be a terrific feeling for the boys involved to run out and play at a League stadium such as Bloomfield Road, in front of what we hope will be a good crowd.”
The U16s will also be facing Wales at the New Bucks Head Stadium in Telford before travelling to Falkirk to complete their Victory Shield fixtures and Swain believes it is imperative for England fans across the nation to get the opportunity to see some potential stars of the future.
“I feel it is important to get England teams out and about over the country, whether it’s the U16 team, a Disability team, a Women’s U19 team or any other England side,” added Swain.
“It’s a great chance for football fans to come and see the best players in action and there could be players involved this evening, who go on to play for the Senior England team in the future, as has happened on numerous occasions before.
“So the fans who are at the game may be able to say that they had seen them first, playing for the England U16 team at Blackpool!”