Nicholas Veevers in Donetsk
Monday, 27 July, 2009
U19s midfielder Dan Gosling wants England to challenge for honours this year.
Dan Gosling has called on his team-mates to fire England into the semi-finals of the European U19 Championship in a bid to challenge for honours.
The 19-year-old midfielder has been involved with England at numerous age groups over the years, including the U17s squad who reached the European Championship Final and World Cup Finals in 2007, but now he wants this team to go one further.
And having been a part of the U19s squad which went out at the group stages of last year’s Euros in Czech Republic, that is a feeling he is desperate to avoid again.
“Last year we were on the plane home early and we don’t want to do that this time,” said Gosling.
“It’s about time we won something, or at least challenged for it.
“On paper we have one of the strongest sides, but that doesn’t matter unless you can do it on the pitch.
“Hopefully we can do that on Monday and qualify for the semis.”
The game which Gosling refers to is the final Group A match, which sees England face Slovenia knowing that a win would be enough to see them progress to the semi-finals after drawing their first two matches of the competition with Switzerland and Ukraine.
Friday night’s match with Ukraine ended in a 2-2 draw after what had been a pulsating 90 minutes and it was a game which really could’ve gone either way with both teams having spells of pressure and chances to clinch it.
Playing the hosts in a competition like this is always going to be tricky, but Gosling was impressed with Ukraine.
“They didn’t stop running all game,” he revealed. “The manager told us that they would start quickly, but I don’t think we expected them to start as quickly as they did and that cost us.
“After that though, we had the better of the first half and rightly got back to level pegs and maybe we should have taken advantage of the situation.
“We didn’t do that and we let them back into it in the second half and we paid for it in the end.
“A draw means we’re still in the tournament obviously and it’s still in our hands, so as long as we get the three points on Monday, then we will be alright.”
The Everton man also found himself on the scoresheet, when latching onto Danny Drinkwater’s quickly taken free-kick to put England ahead in the second half, although he insists the set piece routine wasn’t rehearsed.
“It was totally off the cuff really,” he said.
“I just turned around and there was a bit of space there and Drinks played the ball in. I managed to hit it first time and thankfully it went in.
“After that we had five or ten minutes of pressure when we should’ve killed the game off, but we didn’t manage to do that.”
Despite his goal, Gosling is now keen to put memories of Friday's encounter to bed and focus firmly on the Slovenia game early next week.
“I think everyone has just got to look forward to Monday now and forget last night’s game,” he added.
“Hopefully we can get the three points, which are very much needed, in the next game.”
Along with the likes of Jason Steele and Joe Mattock, who were also in the U19s squad for the finals last year, Gosling is one of the more elder statesmen in the group, which he thinks can only be a good thing as there are a number of players in this party who are involved for the first time too.
“It helps a little I think,” he explained. “Because there are a few lads who are here for the first time and we can try to help them get along.
“Joe Bennett came on yesterday and did well and he had a run out before, so he’s settled in very well and we’re pleased with him and there are the younger lads who have done well too so we can just try to help them through.”