By Nicholas Veevers
Tuesday, 11 October, 2011
Head Coach pleased to see Young Lions progress over the years.
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England U16s get their Victory Shield campaign underway in Chesterfield on Wednesday night and Head Coach Kenny Swain is looking forward to seeing the latest intake of players making their international bow.
The Young Lions have an extraordinary record in the Shield having won it for the last ten years, but Swain is far more concerned about the bigger picture and how many of his players continue their development onwards and upwards.
In recent years, many of Swain’s young charges have made the progression through the various youth teams and look at the recent Under-21 team which beat Norway contained the likes of Jack Butland, Adam Smith, Henri Lansbury, Ross Barkley, Josh McEachran, Gary Gardner and Jonjo Shelvey who all cut their teeth in the Shield before going on into the U17s, U19s and Under-21s.
A look further up and the ladder and Senior players such as Wayne Rooney, James Milner, Jermain Defoe, Glen Johnson and Darren Bent have all featured in the competition, something which Swain wants to continue.
“The Victory Shield is a competition that we’ve done well in over the years and whilst I am proud of our record of tournament wins, it's more so for the steady progression of U16s players through to Under-21 and Senior level,” admitted Swain ahead of the match.
“You will always get late developers too, but over these Victory Shield matches, we will be able to have a close look at upwards of 30 players to assess their potential and performances.
"It's nice to win, but it's more important for the development and progression of the players."
After the match with Northern Ireland on Wednesday, there is another fixture later this month with Wales in Cheltenham before the competition is wrapped up with a trip to Scotland in November, by which time Swain and assistant Noel Blake hope to have seen the best of England’s young talent at close quarters in training and match play.
“The player selection process began in the summer at Keele University, where we had a close look at around 40 players from across the country,” he added.
“Our scouts monitor players throughout the year and their information is fed back to myself and the other National Coaches about the potential and progression of these players.
“I always feel it is important for all players involved to showcase their ability but the overall aim is for them to enjoy the occasion of playing for their country, and proving to all that we do indeed possess proud and talented English footballers.”
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