Michael Woods is hoping that the U19s can repeat the success of the U17s from two seasons ago.
England v Netherlands
7.45pm, Tuesday 9 September 2008
The Prostar Stadium, Shrewsbury Town FC
Live on Setanta
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England U19s get their season underway on Tuesday evening, when they face the Netherlands at Shrewsbury Town’s Porstar Stadium.
Brian Eastick’s team reached the final stage of last season’s European U19 Championship and the new influx of players at this age group begin their preparations for the first round of qualifying which take place in Northern Ireland next month.
However, there is plenty of tournament experience within this squad to hopefully help them through, given that many of the players involved this year were part of the England U17 team which reached the final of the 2007 European U17 Championship.
They then went to the U17 World Cup in Korea last August and reached the quarter-final stage and with a large nucleus of that squad involved again this year, hopes are high going into the season.
Michael Woods was one of the mainstays of that team two seasons ago and is part of the squad to face the Dutch on Tuesday.
During those Championships in Belgium, the Young Lions actually beat the Netherlands by 4-2 and that is a game which Woods remembers well.
The Chelsea midfielder also has an insight into the opposition camp, as one of his Stamford Bridge team-mates, Patrick van Aanholt, is expected to be lining up against him.
“I think they’re looking for a bit of revenge,” revealed Woods.
“So it could be a bit of a tasty game and I’m looking forward to it. Patrick van Aanholt should be playing at left-back for Holland so that’ll be good to come up against him.
“It will be a good test for us against Holland and for us to see where we’re at and what we need to improve on.
With only two U18 games played last season, Woods admits it is good to be back in the international fold again for what could turn out to be a busy season.
After Tuesday’s match, there are the three games against Northern Ireland, Albania and Serbia in October and if the Lions can progress through that stage, they will head on to the Elite Qualifying Round early next year.
“It’s great to get the call again,” added Woods.
“Obviously it’s been a while, because after the World Cup last year it was a fairly quiet season really.
“This season, we’ve got the friendly with Holland and then we’ve got the qualifiers to look forward to as well, so hopefully it can be another big year to look forward to.”
* Withdrawn and replaced by Matthew Briggs of Fulham.
** Withdrawn and replaced by Jack Rodwell of Everton.
*** Withdrawn and replaced by Jay Thomas of Arsenal.
**** Withdrawn and replaced by Nathan Baker of Aston Villa.