With a large pool of players to select from, the door to the Young Lions squad is still wide open.
The Nordic Tournament,
July 28 - 2 August 2008,
Click here for tournament details
The England U17 squad head out to Sweden for the 2008 Nordic Tournament this weekend, with an 18 man squad in place to tackle four games in less than a week.
The Young Lions take on Finland on Monday, before Iceland provide the opposition on Tuesday and Norway on Thursday.
There will then be a further play-off game on Saturday, with the opponents depending on where England finish in their group stage so it will be a testing week for the players selected.
The age group from which the squad are selected enjoyed a successful campaign last time around, winning the Victory Shield in November before returning from France having won the Montaigu Tournament earlier this year.
There is certainly a big pool of players for the England staff to consider and Coach Kenny Swain admits that selection for the U17 squad will continue long beyond this competition.
“It’s still an ongoing process as we continue to monitor players who we feel are good enough to play for England right now and in the future,” said Swain, who takes charge for the Nordic Tournament before John Peacock takes over for the UEFA European U17 Qualifiers in Spain in October.
“There are a few of the boys not here who have already been with us last season, so this will be something like 40 boys who will have appeared for England from this group and that will give us some idea going into this season with John Peacock (pictured, left) who can actually play in the UEFA tournament.
“We’re still looking at more players and there are six or seven new players here this week so that’s a fair proportion of the squad and even a lot of the others have only had momentary experience with us.”
With only a limited squad of players to use over the next week, Swain has already promised the players that they will all get a decent amount of time on the pitch in which to make an impression ahead of what will be a busy campaign for the U17s.
“It’s a big season for them and whilst this is an opportunity to get into the squad, not for one minute does it mean that it finishes there,” he explained.
“We’ve always told the players that an England squad at this sort of age group is never the same, because we give opportunities to boys who are doing well and we’ve already established that we have some talented boys from last year.
“I feel that if the opportunity wasn’t right for them during last season and now, at the end of the season, they have either grown or become a bit more technically assured then they are probably worth an opportunity for us to have a look at their ability.
“There are players still out there now who we know are good enough to be given an opportunity.
“The door is never shut for anyone, as players are continually evolving technically and physically, having ups and downs and growth spurts or whatever.
“We monitor that closely with the co-operation of the club staff and when we feel it is right, we will put a boy in the squad and give him a chance.”
The only drawback is that the lack of games for the Young Lions often means that players have a limited time in which to make an impression, so the coaching staff at all levels are aware of the players up and down the country who have the potential to go on and represent England at the highest level.
“The programme of games are so limited that you have to be selective and I think everybody knows that, so it’s worth pointing out that this is a continuing monitoring programme and there is an open-door policy at this age,” added Swain.
“This process goes on from age 14 and even younger.
“We keep monitoring these players and you get to know who the talented boys are at that age and when they do get to this age, they’re not a surprise to you.”
||West Bromwich Albion|
|Keanu Marsh Brown
||Ipswich Town |
* Withdrawn and replaced by Jak Alnwick of Sunderland.
** Withdrawn and replaced by Kieran Edwards of Middlesbrough.
*** Withdrawn and replaced by Tom Parkes of Leicester City.
**** Withdrawn and replaced by Luke Garbutt of Leeds United.
^ Withdrawn and replaced by Jacob Walcott of Reading.
^^ Withdrawn and replaced by Billy Knott of Chelsea.