Brian Eastick is hoping to see his players striving to make the right impression on Tuesday evening.
England v Croatia
International U19 Friendly
7pm, Tuesday 5 February 2008
County Ground, Swindon Town FC
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England U19s are back in action for the first time in 2008 when they entertain Croatia on Tuesday evening and Head Coach Brian Eastick is hoping to use the game as further preparation for the summer’s European Championship Finals.
The Young Lions have already qualified for the next stage of the competition which will see them face Belarus, Serbia and Poland in May, so a game against Croatia offers England experience in playing against an eastern European outfit.
“It will be an important game in terms of looking at the options we will have available to us when the competitive games are upon us in May,” admitted Eastick, ahead of the game at Swindon Town’s County Ground.
“Having secured qualification to the second stage of the European Championship, our next aim is to make it to the finals which will be hosted by Czech Republic this summer.
“We'd spoken before the qualifiers in October about the importance of winning the group and how significant that would be for us, and we managed to do that with three wins out of three.
“Being seeded for the Elite Round was crucial and I hope that will help us come May when the competitive games get underway.”
With several of the squad on show for Tuesday’s game having been promoted from the U17 squad which travelled to the World Cup last year, Eastick is keen to see them in action before the competitive action starts in a few months' time.
A number of those players featured in a friendly game with Germany in November, which ended in a narrow 1-0 defeat, and now they are set to feature on home soil in what is likely to be a tough test against the Croatians.
“We put out a different squad to the one that played in the recent qualifiers, so it gave us the chance to look at some new players in Germany,” he added.
“That process of looking at players continues tonight when we face further tough opposition in the form of Croatia.
“They have shown at senior level the progress they have made in their short history, and we will learn much from the players involved tonight as they will be facing a very strong team.”
The players are also assured of being well backed during the game, as there looks set to be in excess of 9,000 fans in attendance at the County Ground.
The local fans have snapped up tickets and it will be another good experience for the players in the early stages of their careers.
“We've had tremendous backing in recent times from supporters who have come out in force to watch our games, and I hope that continues at Swindon,” said Eastick.
“It's just another aspect of the learning experience for the development of these young players that they play in front of big crowds.”
Charter Standard clubs can claim up to 50 free tickets while group bookings are just 50p per person for parties of 15 or more.
Ground admission costs just £3 for adults in advance (£5 on the day) and £1 for concessions.
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