Head Coach Noel Blake prepares his side for the European U19 Championships.
UEFA European U19 Championships
18-30 July 2010
Click here for fixtures
By Nicholas Veevers in Caen
England U19s Head Coach Noel Blake takes his squad into European Championship action this Sunday and is hopeful his charges will be able to make a big impression in the competition.
It has been a relatively successful few years for the England development teams, with the U17s becoming European champions in May following on from last year’s Final appearances from the U19 and Under-21 teams.
This is a new year for the U19s though and Blake is firstly looking for encouragement from his team’s performances in the competition over the next week or so.
They begin their campaign against Austria and after having this week to prepare in England before travelling to Normandy on Thursday, Blake has faith in the ability of his players.
"I'm confident in the players, but only time will tell,” he told FATV.
"My first criteria, as always, is to get the performances and what comes after that will come.
"There are no easy games at international level. People talk about Senior level and there being easy games and we should have beaten such a team and so on, but I can assure you there are no easy games.
"I've never had an easy game at youth level whilst I've been with The FA.”
One important aspect of competitions such as these is the experience that the players get from taking part in an intensive international tournament which offers a different standard and style of football to what they are used to at club level.
With games against Austria, Netherlands and France to come in the group stages alone over the next week, it will be a real test for the players in order to play and recover in time for the next game, with potentially five matches in 13 days to come in total.
"It's big for the players both on and off the field,” he added.
"One of our objectives apart from good performances is to get in the top three of our group, as that means we will qualify for the U20 World Cup next year and that's more tournament experience which is critical for us.”
One difference this year from the last two seasons when the U19s have also reached the last eight of this competition is the media coverage which has been centred on things.
There was a heavy media presence at the final training session at Warwick University before the squad came out to France, which Blake sees as another part of the players’ learning curve.
"The only added pressure we've seen this year is the mass media coverage of the U19s, for the first time since I've been here,” said Blake.
"We can't control what goes on at the Senior end, but all we can do is to work the lads and try to develop them and progress them that way internationally.”Watch FATV’s video from the media day now, featuring the views of Blake and players Matthew Briggs and Nathan Delfouneso by clicking on the link at the right.