Head Coach Brian Eastick was left in no doubt as to who were worthy winners on Tuesday.
International U19 Friendly
7pm, Tuesday 25 March 2008
stadium:mk, Milton Keynes Dons FC
England U19s Head Coach Brian Eastick admitted his side’s preparations for their European Championship qualifiers couldn’t have gone any better, following Tuesday’s win over Russia in Milton Keynes.
With games against Belarus, Poland and Serbia coming up in May, Eastick and his team have faced opposition from Eastern European outfits Croatia and Russia in their final two friendlies before they head to Belarus for the Elite Group qualifying stage.
“It’s no co-incidence that we played Croatia and Russia because we have three Eastern Bloc countries in the qualifying group, so I’m delighted with the preparation,” admitted Eastick, following the game.
“I thought in the second half we played some very good football, but in the first half there was plenty of space to play but I felt we made too many unforced errors and weren’t clinical enough in the final third when we got in some great positions.
“We flattered to deceive a little in the first half, but in the second we were a lot better.
“We certainly deserved to win the game, as we were the better footballing team.”
Russia are also at the same stage of qualifying as the Young Lions and are also a seeded team, so it was a good test for England who were without the services of players like Freddie Sears, Danny Sturridge, Kieran Gibbs, Krystian Pearce and Sam Hutchinson.
“In fairness, I think Russia were looking at one or two players this evening, the same as we were but they’re a formidable outfit,” added Eastick.
“We had a few players missing through injury and first team commitments, but we will have them back for the qualifiers and it gives me a nice problem and some real food for thought as we have competition for places to get into the final 18-man squad.”
It was the final match for England before they head east in May and that will be a new experience for many of the squad and one that Eastick knows will stand them in good stead for the future.
“It’s one of the experiences they’ll have to get used to, being away for two weeks together, managing their down time and going to somewhere like Belarus where it may be difficult conditions,” he added.
“The hotel might not be quite the standard they are used to here and the stadiums may not be quite as good as what we played in here.
“That’s what international football is all about though, adjusting to those conditions and putting in performances to produce a winning mentality.
“It will be a good challenge for us, so let’s hope we can go and qualify.”
Eastick also reserved special mention for defender James Tomkins, who netted the first two goals for England, following swiftly on from making his Premiership debut for West Ham United at Everton at the weekend.
“He’s had a hell of a week, making his debut and then this so I’m sure Alan Curbishley is delighted with him,” he said.
“He’ll be wondering what I’ve done to him after his two goals and it was with Alan in mind that I brought him off as he played on Saturday so it was a good time to bring him off.”