A chance to impress
By Nicholas Veevers
Monday, 11 April, 2011
Head Coach Noel Blake ready for Italian test.
England U18s Head Coach Noel Blake takes his side into action for the final time this season on Tuesday afternoon when the Young Lions face Italy.
With Blake looking ahead to the European U19 Championship Elite Qualifying Round in Switzerland in May, this game offers an opportunity for a number of players to try and impress and force their way into that squad.
After winning the European U17 Championship last summer, several members of this particular year group such as Josh McEachran, Connor Wickham and Andre Wisdom have already progressed into the older aged teams and that has opened up the opportunity for several new faces to stake their claim on the international scene.
“We’re always looking and any players who we think deserve the chance we will select,” said Blake.
“We watch a lot of games and this is an age group where players are growing and developing all of the time so there are opportunities.
“It’s not only about this season, but these lads will be available as U19s next season and that’s a competition year so the experience from games like this can only help them.”
Out of this squad, there are a number of new players hoping to make their England bow including Conor Thomas of Liverpool, Leicester City’s Tom Hopper, Curtis Nelson of Plymouth Argyle and Sheffield United ‘keeper George Long, whilst six of the group were part of last season’s Championship winning squad in Conor Coady, Bruno Pilatos, Ben Gibson, George Thorne, Saido Berahino and Rob Hall.
“We know what a lot of the boys are about already,” added Blake.
“It’s just a matter of them playing games and seeing what they’re like on the road when we’re away as a group.
“That’s an important part of it for us and a good experience and learning curve for them.”