Luke Freeman says the U17s are ready to collect three points against Turkey.
England v Turkey
UEFA European U17 Championship
4.45pm (GMT), Tuesday 12 May 2009
Luke Freeman believes the England U17 squad have now fully recovered from their 4-0 defeat to Germany on Saturday and says they are ready to collect three points against Turkey later today.
A sizeable victory over the Turks could see England book their place in the Semi-Final of the UEFA European U17 Championship, but a point would also be enough to confirm their participation in the FIFA U17 World Cup in October.
Although the England forward started against the Netherlands in the opening Group B match Freeman didn’t feature against Germany, but he still felt the effects of Saturday’s defeat.
"After that Germany game we were a bit sore because we hadn’t been beaten in the European qualifiers or in the opening game," he admitted. "The fact that it was quite a heavy defeat also hurt quite a bit.
"A defeat like this could help us out in the long run though. In football you’ve got to experience the lows as well as the highs, and although we were hurting after the game, I hope it will make us better for it. The boys are over that game now and we’re confident we can go out and get a result against Turkey."
Freeman knows that a point against Turkey would guarantee England third spot in Group B and therefore seal their place at the U17 World Cup in Nigeria. To be involved in such an event would be an honour, he says.
"Playing in a World Cup is a great experience for any player and it would be a privilege to play in such a big tournament.
"I watched the last U17 World Cup on TV and it’s weird to think that in a few month time I could be playing in it. I’ve spoken to Rhys Murphy and Henri Lansbury about it since I’ve been at Arsenal and they both say it was a great experience."
Freeman joined Arsenal from Gillingham where he became the youngest-ever player to feature in The FA Cup when he came off the bench against Barnet in the First Round last season aged 15 years and 233 days. He has also scored two goals en route to these Euro Finals, one against Portugal and one against Serbia, and he is joined in this squad by Arsenal team-mates, Benik Afobe and Jack Wilshere.
"It’s always good to see the Arsenal boys in the England set-up," he said. "The whole squad gets on really well, but it’s good to have them there if you’re feeling a bit down. And because we’re in the same hotel as Holland it’s funny seeing Ozzy [Holland captain, Oguzhan Ozyakup] walking around as well. It’s fair to say there’s been a bit of banter flying about between us all."
All joking aside, Freeman insists that with one eye on the Semi-Final and one eye on the World Cup, England are fully focused on collecting three points this afternoon.
"We’ve had a meeting on the Turkey team, we’ve watched all the DVDs and we had a good training session yesterday, so we’re ready for the game."