Monday, 06 August, 2012
U17s Coach pleased with squad depth after Faroe Islands victory.
By Nicholas Veevers
England U17s Coach Kenny Swain paid tribute to his squad after seeing them pick up an opening day win in the Nordic Tournament in the Faroe Islands on Tuesday afternoon.
The Young Lions completed a 2-0 victory over the host nation, but what pleased Swain the most was the way in which his group of players came together, travelled abroad and put in a professional and slick performance.
"They made us work hard for the win," revealed Swain.
"You should never under-estimate any international side and that's one of our doctrines with the kids, but that was probably the best Faroe Islands young team that we've ever played against.
"It was certainly the best performance I've ever seen the Faroese produce. They were well prepared for the game, but I think the scoreline was probably about right. They did defend well and they also had their moments in the second half, but nobody panicked and if the game had gone on, the scoreline would've increased."
Second-half goals from Middlesbrough's Bradley Fewster and Aston Villa's Danny O'Brien were enough to win the match on this occasion, but it's been the contribution of all 18 players at his disposal so far which has pleased Swain the most.
The Nordic Tournament has traditionally been used by Swain as a chance to work with a number of players who might not have featured much at U16 level in the previous campaign but could be potential selections for U17 Head Coach John Peacock as he looks forward to the UEFA European Championships and in previous seasons, a number of players who have debuted in this competition have gone on to become more regular players with the U17s over the rest of the season.
"It was a really pleasing performance by us because they've taken all of the training we've done into the game," added Swain.
"Considering there were so many new faces in there, which you can see by looking at the squad, to go away after three or four days together, to a foreign country and produce a performance like they did today, against any team, is testament to their willingness and preparation.
"They've been a delight to work with so far and the performance was based on patience. Even though we didn't score until ten minutes before the end, they played constantly with belief and without nerves.
"Everybody apart from one player and a goalkeeper got on, so they've all made a contribution and many of them had never played together before, so that's pleasing and hopefully we can all kick-on from here."
The squad won't have to wait long either, as England's next game is just 24 hours after their first, when Finland are the opposition on Tuesday afternoon with Swain set to make changes.
"We'll play a different line-up against Finland," he revealed.
"We're always increasing the depth of the squad which falls into line with what I've been saying in the last three to four years, that the strength of our squads is increasing and more players are beginning to threaten the top 24 players or so in each year group.
"I think we've drawn on nearly 50 different players this year, which we've never been able to do previously as they hadn't reached that base-line quality, of which we've got more of now."