After scoring his first goal, Nile Ranger now has Slovakia in his sights.
England v Slovakia
7pm, Friday 29 May 2009
Coral Windows Stadium, Valley Parade, Bradford City FC
Ticket Hotline: 01274 770012
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The Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster will forever remain in the memory of Nile Ranger, after the England hitman notched his first goal for the Young Lions there on Wednesday night.
The Newcastle United striker, making his full debut for England, headed home his team’s second goal to seal an opening victory in the quest to reach the European U19 Championship Finals.
It had been an impressive display from the 18-year-old too, partnering Nathan Delfouneso up front as England had to break down a resilient Bosnia-Herzegovina side and the whole experience was still placed firmly in Ranger’s mind the following afternoon.
“I’m still buzzing actually,” he told TheFA.com at the team’s Sheffield hotel.
“To score on my full debut was great, I wasn’t even expecting a call-up but I’m happy to be here and involved.
“They were good on the counter attack and didn’t stop running so they made it tough for us and it was important for us to get the first goal and that made it a bit easier for the second half.
“It was a great ball in from Victor (Moses) and I just managed to get my head on it and guide it in.”
This is only Ranger’s second involvement with the England squad at any age group, following his call-up by Brian Eastick for the friendly game with Czech Republic in March.
A second half substitute appearance in that game gave him the chance to show what he could do and he obviously left an impression in order to be involved again.
“I came on (against Czech Republic) and just gave my all,” he added.
“We battered them a little bit but just couldn’t get the goal, but I generally gave it my best and managed to hit the post, which was unfortunate.”
All attentions in the England camp have now turned to Friday’s game with Slovakia at Valley Parade though, where they will be looking to make it six points out of six.
And having seen the Slovakians at close quarters, Ranger knows what to expect from them.
“They look like a pretty big side, so it will be tough for us again,” he said.
“I sort of like the physical stuff though, that’s a strong part of my game so I’m looking forward to it.
“We need to get the win on Friday and hopefully Scotland will lose against Bosnia to give us a good chance, but our main aim is simply to go through to the Finals and we want to win all three games.”
The north-Londoner originally started his career with Southampton but moved north to join Newcastle last summer and has hardly looked back since, becoming a regular goalscorer at both Academy and reserve level, prompting boss Alan Shearer to reward him with a long term professional contract.
As a newcomer to the international scene, he’s still adjusting to his new squad-mates and training routines and it’s something he admits he’s been enjoying.
“I’ve settled in well with the lads ever since I was first called up for the last game, so it’s good,” he explained.
“International football is sort of different to club football, I’m playing against players that I don’t always get the chance to play against and to be honest, I’m not really used to it yet.
“We don’t really get a break, as we played last night and then had our recover y today before the next game tomorrow so it’s hard. With the club, you’re training every day with your team-mates and playing week-in and week-out, so it’s different but I’m certainly enjoying it.”Tickets are on sale now for Friday’s game with Slovakia at Valley Parade, priced at just £3 for adults and £1 for concessions (£5 for adults on the day) so call the ticket hotline on 01274 770012.