Practice makes perfect
by Glenn Lavery
Friday, 06 August, 2010
Kenny Swain happy with his side's attitude to training.
The England U17 team are preparing to take on Iceland in their final group match of the Nordic Tournament and they will go into this afternoon’s game with Kenny Swain’s words of praise ringing in their ears.
The Young Lions have registered two victories in their opening two games, against Finland and Denmark, scoring seven goals without reply in the process. Swain kept his promise of making sure every player got to start a game and he has been pleased with how his side have risen to the occasion, especially the seven players who are receiving their first taste of international football.
“They’ve all played now and I’ve been pleased with the debuts that they’ve made because it is difficult going into a game with new team-mates, especially at international level,” said Swain.
“They’ve got a good work ethic both in training and games, and they have all been excellent in welcoming in the new boys. I’m happy with the new boys in particular because they’ve settled in well and I’ve been pleased with the performances, too, because this group have proven over the last year that they can take into games what they've worked on in training and they’ve done that as well as any group.”
Where England eased to a 5-0 victory over the host nation in the opening game, Denmark provided a sterner examination on Wednesday but Swain was, again, full of praise for the way his side managed the game.
“We thought [Denmark were] going to be the stiffest test of the tournament and it turned out that way, particularly in the first half,” he revealed. “They had a lot of the ball and they posed us a few problems. To be fair, though, we limited their threat on goal to one chance which we defended very well. And then we grew in confidence in the second half and obviously got the two goals to win the game.”
Swain is now prepared for an equally difficult assignment against Iceland. Although England have six points to Iceland’s three, a win for the Scandinavians would see them top the group by virtue of having a better head-to-head record, but the former Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa defender is confident his side can prevent that possibility from becoming a reality.
“Iceland will be well motivated because they are in a position to top this group and also win the tournament, which, when you consider the opposition - the likes of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland - that will be a massive achievement.
“They’ve got everything to play for so, without a doubt, it will be a difficult test, but it’s one that these boys will have to get used to as they make their way in the game. I’ve been very happy with them so far and hopefully we can continue in the same vein.”