Blake hoping for solid start
Monday, 07 September, 2009
U19s kick-off their season against Russia on Tuesday.
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England U19s get their season off to a start on Tuesday evening, when they face Russia in a game at Shrewsbury Town’s ProStar Stadium.
After reaching the Final of the European U19 Championship last term, the Young Lions will be hoping to go one further this time around and with the First Qualifying Round just a month away, this game will be fine preparation for new Head Coach Noel Blake.
“It will be an important game in terms of looking at the options we have available to us for when the competitive European Championship qualifying games take place next month,” said Blake, who takes over from Brian Eastick as the man in charge of the U19s following nearly three years as Assistant Coach.
“It will also be an on-going process throughout the coming season and the opportunity is there for players to put a marker down in my mind for those important qualifiers.”
Several of Blake’s squad for the game have already featured at U19 level in the past year or so, but for others it represents the next step on the international ladder from the U17 team and Blake is looking forward to taking them under his wing.
“It should be an interesting game, as this is the first time some of this group of players have been together in 18 months,” he added.
“I will also take the opportunity to have a look at one or two new players at this level, so the process of looking at players continues.”
He is also expecting a stern test from Russia, which is ideal as England face largely eastern European opposition in October’s qualifiers in Slovenia, against the hosts, Slovakia and Finland.
“Russia are a nation who have a good track record of developing young talent who then go on to represent the senior national team,” explained Blake.
“We needed to face strong opposition, which the Russians will certainly provide. They will also offer a different challenge and style of football to us, as they are not opponents who we face too often at youth level.”
Tickets for the Russia game are just £3 in advance (£5 on the night) and £1 concessions. Charter Standard clubs can claim up to 50 free tickets while group bookings of 15 people plus works out at 50p per ticket.