England face Russia in the opening match of the Montaigu Tournament.
England U16 v Russia
The Montaigu Tournament
5pm (GMT), Wednesday 8 April 2009
After maintaining England’s firm grip on the Victory Shield in November, Kenny Swain’s U16 side will now set their sights on retaining the Montaigu Tournament their predecessors won 12 months ago.
Swain’s current crop of youngsters take on Russia on Wednesday in their Group B opener. They then face United Arab Emirates before rounding group matters off against Ivory Coast, with all four teams vying for a place in Monday’s final against either the hosts, France, Germany, Australia or Mali.
The majority of England’s squad will now be hoping to use the experience of international tournament football to their advantage.
"I’d like to think it’ll stand them in good stead," said Swain of England’s Victory Shield success.
"Tournament football at this young age group will help these players develop and this is another step on the ladder.
"I don’t think we could have asked for a harder start, because Russia are a bit of an unknown quantity and I haven’t faced them that many times in my time with England."
One feature of the Montaigu Tournament is three games inside five days when player recovery becomes paramount and after five years coaching the U16 year group, the importance of recovery is not lost on Swain.
"Physically, we rely an awful lot on the experience of the medical staff that we have [in France]," he said.
"Rotating the players and sharing the workload happens a lot in this tournament and that helps us handle the quick turnaround, but their physical recovery is also important.
"We’ve had three days to prepare and the games will come thick and fast, but they’ve trained hard and we’ll be ready for the challenge," Swain continued.
"International experience, on top of their club programmes, is a terrific way to develop the players, and the fact that five players who are eligible for the U16s have had the opportunity to travel to Hungary with the U17s for the UEFA European U17 Championship Qualifiers is testimony of the quality we possess in this year group."
England's previous group of U16s defeated Germany and Japan en route to beating France in the final last season.