U16 Head Coach looks ahead to Victory Shield opener in Yeovil.
England U16 v Wales U16
Sky Sports Victory Shield
7.40pm, Thursday 15 October 2009
Huish Park, Yeovil Town FC
Tickets are available from the Yeovil Town ticket office, priced £5 for adults and £1 for concessions
Click here to buy a match programme (£2) online
This evening, England’s newest band of U16 players will entertain Wales in their opening match of this season’s Victory Shield and Head Coach, Kenny Swain, has predicted a display of endeavour and passion from his charges.
The Victory Shield, which pitches the four home nations against each other in a round robin tournament between now and Christmas, has seen England’s youngsters flourish over the last decade with eight Shield wins in a row. This season’s edition sees England host Northern Ireland on 5 November before travelling to Tynecastle, home of Heart of Midlothian, to take on Scotland in their final match.
A number of the current Senior squad received their first taste of international football in this tournament, with Wayne Rooney, Glen Johnson, Wes Brown and Aaron Lennon being the most notable examples. Now Swain is charged with introducing this new crop of Young Lions to the international set-up and he believes they will demonstrate endeavour in abundance.
“The younger age groups, certainly the U16s and U17s, are the lifeblood of England’s future and you won’t get a more committed or enthusiastic group of players,” he said. “I'm sure this commitment and enthusiasm will shine through, from both sides, and we should be in for an entertaining evening at Yeovil.
“As in previous years, we’ve identified some talented players in this age group,” he continued. “The Victory Shield is an important competition for us because it provides an opportunity to assess these young players properly, in game situations.”
Two members of the squad that he has already had the opportunity to assess are Jordan Cousins and Matthias Fanimo, who appeared in last season’s Shield while still a year young. Their Shield experience could prove vital over the next three matches, though Swain has insisted that the focus of this tournament is not purely focused on results.
“We have enjoyed some success in the Victory Shield in recent seasons but at this age group it is important to marry together a winning mentality with developing players.
“For the majority of this squad, that process begins against Wales and it’s a game we’re all looking forward to.”