Noel Blake will blood some new U19 internationals at Gresty Road.
England v Slovakia
An U19 International Match
7.30pm, Thursday 2 September 2010
Gresty Road, Crewe Alexandra FC
Ticket hotline 01270 252 610
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A new crop of England U19 players will be hoping to impress Noel Blake when the Young Lions begin their preparations for the 2011 European Championship with a friendly against Slovakia at Crewe Alexandra’s Gresty Road stadium on 2 September, kick-off 7.30pm.
It’s been a summer of success for England’s development squads with the U17s lifting the European Championship title in Liechtenstein while the U19s made it all the way through to the semi-Final of their European Championship tournament in Normandy where they were beaten 3-1 by Spain on Tuesday.
"It's a new campaign for our '92 year group and I expect to have some new faces in the group, boys that we have monitored over a period of time,” said Blake whose side will begin their preliminary Euro qualifiers for Romania 2011 in Belgium this autumn.
"The last England game for most of them would have been the European U17 Championship Finals in Germany last year, where we felt we under performed and underachieved,” said the U19s Head Coach.
Players who featured at the U17 Euros in Germany include new Liverpool signing Jonjo Shelvey plus Everton youngster Jose Baxter. John Bostock, who scored for England in their semi-final against Spain on Tuesday, skippered the U17s in Germany while Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere has been fast-tracked to Stuart Pearce’s Under-21 set-up following a successful loan spell at Bolton Wanderers last season.
The Slovakia game might also see a return to international action for Aston Villa youngster Gary Gardner: “He’s been out for a long time with a cruciate injury but we're looking forward to seeing him back hopefully because he's a very influential player at international level having played at the U20 World Cup in Egypt last year as an U18 player,” commented Blake, who started his own professional career at Villa Park in 1979.
Blake is also aware that Slovakia won’t be an easy ride for the Young Lions: “Eastern European nations are always difficult to play against and Slovakia are on the up so it will be a tough and interesting fixture.”
The England U19s Head Coach is hoping to meet up with Crewe legend Dario Gradi before kick-off as well: "He's someone that I admire greatly and I did my Pro Licence with him so hopefully we can catch up for a cup of tea beforehand.
"The playing surface at Gresty Road has always been good and it's a club that has always supported youth football and developing young players so it’s a good venue for us.”For information on tickets for England U19s v Slovakia contact the Crewe Alexandra ticket office on 01270 252610.