Martin Hunter is hoping that the momentum of the domestic season will carry his players to victory in Belgium.
England v Belgium
UEFA European U19 Championship
Elite Qualifying Round
FC Tournai, Belgium
7pm 18 May 2006,
For the full match schedule click here
England Under-19s Coach Martin Hunter is hoping that the momentum of a busy season for many of his young players will carry them through the Elite Qualifying round in Belgium.
England begin their qualifying campaign tonight at FC Tournai taking on Belgium who will enjoy the home advantage, but that will not faze any of the Young Lions.
With David Wheater and Adam Johnson involved for Middlesbrough in their run to the UEFA Cup Final and several other players from the squad playing first-team football for their clubs, there will not be a lack of sharpness amongst the side.
Martin said: "The season is not long over for many of the players and that should help them in preparation of these important three games. They will hardly need any further encouragement though - the potential reward for qualification is a huge incentive.
"These games should be very tough but we'll be looking to do well, building on our recent good performances.
"It is a valuable experience for the players to play in such a competitive arena, you really can't replicate it. Hopefully these players will make it to Under-21 level and perhaps even senior level for their country, and what they learn from this tournament will make that step up much more manageable."
There have been changes four changes to the original squad for the Qualifying Round, and perhaps the most notable would be Theo Walcott being replaced by West Brom's Stuart Nicholson due to his call-up to the Senior Squad for the World Cup.
Speaking to TheFA.com Martin was pleased for Theo: "He's a great lad and everyone here is pleased for him - he has a lot of friends in this group and they will miss him.
"It was a pleasure working with him and he showed what he can do in our last match at Northampton, I'm sure he'll do very well. In his place I also think that Stuart has a great chance to do well.
"He is a proven goalscorer and he has had a fantastic season for West Brom's reserve side, making his debut for the first team also. This is his first time with this age group and I hope he takes his chance."