Luke Garbutt hopes his experience will stand the U17s in good stead this week.
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
It is widely accepted that the experience of playing tournament football is a key ingredient of a young footballer’s development.
Playing a number of matches in just a matter of days, recovering from the subsequent physical demands and quickly adjusting to different styles and systems are just a few of the challenges that must be conquered.
John Peacock’s England U17 team face this very scenario this week, when they host The FA International U17 Tournament, but one player who is well versed in this routine is 16-year-old left-back, Luke Garbutt.
Garbutt has been called upon for six different tournaments during his brief time on the international scene, with both the U16s and the U17s, and he says his familiarity with a tournament environment could prove beneficial during England’s next three matches, which pitches them against Italy, Turkey and Portugal.
“I'm really excited about this Tournament,” Garbutt said. “It will be the first time in about ten months that I’ll be back playing with my own age group. It’ll be nice to see all the lads again, after the Victory Shield last season.
“I'm probably one of the more experienced players in this squad so hopefully I can help the other boys and give them some advice on how to go about playing against different opponents."
Garbutt captained the U16s against Scotland in the final match of last season’s Victory Shield before being elevated to various U17 squads, which culminated in him being called up for last season’s European Championship in Germany and he believes this current crop of U17s can go even further than their predecessors.
“The Euros were a tremendous experience for me,” admitted Garbutt, who scored England’s only goal of those Finals, an equaliser against Holland in the opening group game.
“Going out there we looked a strong squad but we didn’t perform to the level we should have done and that was really disappointing. I suppose that’s one reason why I'm looking forward to the next round of Qualifiers. I really believe we can make it through to the Finals again and we’ve definitely got the potential to do well. It’d be nice to do better than in the summer and that’s what we’ll all be aiming for.”
The First Qualifying Round for next year’s Euros, which will take place in October, has drawn England against Azerbaijan, Serbia and Kazakhstan, but before the U17s can contemplate this challenge they must first negotiate this International Tournament and Garbutt is well aware of the standard of opposition England will face.
“The quality that we’ll be coming up against in this Tournament is excellent. As a trio, these three teams will arguably be stronger than the three we have to face in the First Qualifying Round, so it should help us a lot, especially if we can come away with some positive results.
“There’s a good spirit in the camp. This year group is quite a close-knit unit and we’re very confident in our ability, which is probably one reason why I think we’ve won as much as we have. Hopefully we can keep that going.”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.