Noel Blake explains his squad selection for Euro qualifiers.
UEFA European U19 Championship
First Qualifying Round
Albania, Belgium, Cyprus, England
8-13 October 2010
Malmedy & Vise, Belgium
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By Nicholas Veevers
Noel Blake is hoping his young charges can pick up where they left off next month, when they travel to Belgium for the First Qualifying Round of the European U19 Championships.
The Head Coach selected his squad for the trip earlier this week and the group had a familiar look to it as the majority of players had featured in the victory over Slovakia at Crewe in early September.
It was an impressive performance given that all of the players on show that night hadn’t previously featured at U19 level. They now have that experience behind then and with midfielder John Bostock back in the squad after featuring regularly last season, Blake is hopeful they will have enough to come through their group.
“Obviously, Slovakia was a friendly game and that gave me the opportunity to look at one or two different players and with these games, it’s a qualifying tournament, so there aren’t as many changes to the squad,” he explained, after making three changes to the squad from the Slovakia group.
“I’ve brought Harry Kane in, because he’s been doing really well at Tottenham and I want to have a look at him.
“Jed Steer was injured and had to miss the Slovakia game, so we’ve brought Jed back in and will have a look at him too.”
Eight of this group all featured in last season’s European Championship winning U17 squad and the continuity and spirit from that success was carried over into the game against Slovakia so Blake was keen to utilise that in the U19s again this season, hence the large contingent of under-aged players.
“We all know how well a lot of these lads did as U17s last year and they played very well against Slovakia, so I didn’t want to make too many changes really,” he added.
“One of the things I do want to look at is how they can play in different systems throughout the tournament. We have three games and a few different propositions and problems to face, so that’s something that I will be looking at as the tournament goes on, if and when required.
“One of the strengths of last year was how the team were able to change systems and that’s something that I think is required so we will do some work on that and, if it’s required in a game, they will have the information and know how to be able to change in mid-stream.”
England’s first game is against Albania on Friday 8 October, before they take on Cyprus two days later. The four-team tournament is wrapped up on Wednesday 13 October against hosts Belgium.