'A beneficial experience'
Thursday, 25 October, 2012
U18s Head Coach Noel Blake reflects on victory over Italy
By Nicholas Veevers in Mansfield
Noel Blake reflected on a job well done in Mansfield, after seeing his England U18s beat Italy on Wednesday night.
An early goal from Everton’s Chris Long and a second-half strike from Manchester City forward Devante Cole gave England the victory and the manner in which the team went about their business pleased the Head Coach, with Italy offering a stern opposition.
He told FATV: “Italy are a leading nation at this level, as we’ve spoken about many times before, and it was a good test for us because the squad was very different in many respects.
“It was very beneficial from my point of view as it gave me an opportunity to look at one or two of the lads when they were under duress, in terms of how we applied ourselves and we managed to restrict them to long range attempts.
“You’ve got to remember, there are nine new lads in this group and they only came together on Sunday for the first time so they’re not really a team or squad just yet but to their credit, they stayed in the game and that enabled us to wait until the tide turned, and then go on again.
“If I’m honest, in the end I’m disappointed that we didn’t come away with a couple more goals.
“As the game went on, we grew and we finished the game very strongly.”
With Blake also taking charge of the U19s ahead of next May’s Elite Round Qualifiers, there are spaces up for grabs in his squad and he made sure all of the U18 squad were aware of that.
And some of the performances at the One Call Stadium will give him plenty of options for the matches coming up.
“There were some good individual performances and that’s the pleasing thing,” added Blake.
“I said to the lads throughout the time that we’ve been together, that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was here two years ago at this stage.
“So the opportunity is there for them and I have to say, some of the new boys came in and said to me they want to have a shout at getting in the U19s.
“It’s up to them to say to me out there on the pitch and in training that they’re good enough for the U19s and some people did that.”