John Peacock looks ahead to The FA International U17 Tournament.
England v Italy
The FA International U17 Tournament
7pm, Wednesday 26 August 2009
Pirelli Stadium, Burton Albion FC
Tickets are priced £5 for adults, £1 for concessions
In October England will begin their qualification campaign for the UEFA European U17 Championship and John Peacock believes this week’s FA International Tournament will provide his side with the perfect preparation.
This Tournament has been a regular event in the U17 calendar since its inception in 1999 and this year’s edition welcomes Italy, Turkey and Portugal to Burton Albion, Northampton Town and Notts County respectively.
Peacock’s charges face Italy in their opening match this evening and he hopes they can continue where they left off last season when the majority of the squad were involved with the U16s.
“Under the direction of Kenny Swain and Noel Blake this group of players have been gradually introduced to the demands of international football through the U16 programme,” explained Peacock.
“They won last season’s Victory Shield Tournament and the Montaigu Tournament in France during the Easter break and now I have to prepare them for a UEFA Qualification year, with the ultimate target being to progress to the UEFA Finals in May,” he continued.
“This Tournament should prepare us well for our initial qualification against Serbia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. I believe it is extremely important to really test the players in preparation for this event and the quality of the three nations we have to face this week will certainly do this.
“All three have excellent pedigrees on the international youth stage and this week’s games will be competitive and should give me a clear indication of where we have strength in depth and in what areas we need to improve upon.”
Seventeen members of Peacock’s 18-man squad had some experience of international football last season, with Leicester City’s Liam Moore being the only new call-up. England will lock horns with Turkey on Friday, before concluding the Tournament against Portugal on Sunday, but for now, Peacock’s thoughts are on the Italians.
"Italy has a reputation for producing good players and they play in a defensive style which will be hard to break down. They played in this Tournament last year and we beat them 2-0 but they also reached the semi-final of the European Championship at the end of the season so you know they’ll be high calibre."You can follow the U17s’ progress throughout the Tournament on TheFA.com and we’ll also have exclusive video highlights and post-match reaction the morning after each match.