Coach Kenny Swain speaks of the challenges ahead of next week's trip to the Nordic Tournament.
The Nordic Tournament
July 28 - 2 August 2008
Click here for tournament details
Next week sees the start of a busy season for the England U17s, as they travel to Sweden for the 2008 Nordic Tournament, which kicks-off on Monday.
The Young Lions will face matches against Finland, Iceland and Norway in the competition before a final play-off game and this all takes place within the space of seven days.
With this age group of players having enjoyed a successful campaign last time around when they lifted the Sky Sports Victory Shield and then travelled to France to win the Montaigu Tournament as U16s, they now move on to the UEFA European U17 Championships this year.
Qualifiers for that competition begin in October and the Nordic Tournament, swiftly followed by a four team friendly competition in England in August, act as preparation for the rigours ahead.
The Nordic Tournament also sees the players tested physically and gives them a further taste of tournament football with a number of games coming in quick succession.
That is something which will prove valuable for them when the qualifying games come around in a few months.
“Physically it’s a step up for this group of players, but not so much psychologically though because they’re thrilled to bits to be involved with England,” revealed Coach Kenny Swain, who is leading the squad into this competition before John Peacock (pictured below) takes charge for the qualifying trip to Spain.
“We know it’s going to be a physical challenge because it always is and one thing we can guarantee is that everyone in the squad will play and get a good portion of games, so no-one will be going back with 20 minutes of football under their belt.
“We try and distribute it evenly to give everybody a good opportunity to show what they can do.”
The Nordic Tournament has become a regular competition at this level for England over the years and serves its purpose in preparing the players for what may lie ahead in the future.
Given the opposition at the competition, Swain knows exactly what the players will be up against and how it can all aid their development.
“It’s an appropriate test for everybody,” he added.
“The Scandinavian nations generally are strong and I think as individuals technically, they’re quite good.
“There are some good players involved and it’s the right challenge for our players at this point in the season.
“Hopefully they will respond to it and naturally they will want to win but our priority is to monitor them closely and assess whether they’re good enough to go into the U17 squad right now or whether we put them on the back-burner for a couple of months and see how they go.”
With such a large number of players having featured over the last year whilst in the U16 squad, this competition gives a further chance to look at players ahead of the U17 season.
“The main purpose of the Nordics is because it’s the back end of the year for the U16s and it’s a final opportunity to establish in this difficult age group who we can look at and think, ‘well, is he good enough to enter that U17 squad starting next month?’
“John (Peacock) will have a good opportunity to look at them and he’s going to come out for a few days to see a couple of the games.
“Along with some of the players who have already established themselves, he will be able to select a squad to enter the European Championships.”
||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.