Swain happy with player progress
Wednesday, 15 February, 2012
Head Coach satisfied with his side's development after Spanish win.
By Nicholas Veevers
England U16s Head Coach Kenny Swain believes his current group of players are fully ‘on course’ in their international development following Wednesday’s impressive victory over Spain.
The Young Lions put in a good performance in Madrid, fully matching their hosts over the 80 minutes before debutant George Green struck home the winner in the last minute and Swain says the result was fully warranted following the players’ work over the last three days.
"It was a good result for us and the performance was good, so to score in the last minute was fully deserved,” admitted Swain, who also led the squad to Victory Shield success earlier this season.
"It was a real international test for us today and it was one that everyone was really looking forward to, because it's always a challenge when you're playing Spain.
"The game was very even, but I thought we deserved it because we kept trying to win the game, particularly in the later stages.
"It was quite frantic towards the end and there was a bit of ping-pong going on, but we defended well and we didn't have too many problems. We were always on the front foot and looking to score goals.
"So it was a brave performance and they say 'fortune favours the brave', so it was one of those as the lads were brave enough to keep going for it.”
Everton striker Green was one of four players in the squad for the first time, all of whom had significant time on the pitch and Swain was delighted with all of their contributions, not just in the game but also across the training sessions in the build-up.
"It was a great finish from George, so I’m pleased for him,” added Swain. “It was his first call-up and he came on in the second half. We’ve had four new players involved and they've all done really well.
"That's always pleasing as they've slotted in comfortably and performed well with the group.
"It gives me the headache that I want to have. We had some players missing, who might have been here, so for the four new lads to play as well as they did is very encouraging.”
Whilst the result will be the thing which catches the eye of most people, Swain himself remains more concerned with performances and player development at this stage of their careers and he was only too keen to re-emphasise that before the party return to England later.
"To be honest, I'd have been just as pleased if we'd come home without even playing the game, because from the three days of training and preparation, I'd seen enough of them to please me,” he explained.
"The game was the icing on the cake really, but in terms of what we're looking for at this stage in their development, they're well on track and the last couple of year groups have been the same.”
Swain’s U16s will next be in action in late March and early April, when they travel to the Montaigu Tournament in France which will give them another new experience in the shape of a tournament format with multiple matches within a week.