Blake pleased with squad's 'promise'
Thursday, 02 September, 2010
Head Coach ready to look at new faces against Slovakia tonight.
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England U19s Head Coach Noel Blake starts a new season on Thursday night, little over a month since tasting the heartbreak of a semi-final defeat in last campaign’s European Championship Finals.
The Young Lions of last year had a fine season and suffered only two defeats in all of their 13 games, with both of those reverses coming in the Finals in France in July.
Now Blake is in charge of a new intake of players as he plots the year ahead and hopefully another run to the latter stages of the Euros, which are to be held in Romania next July.
The squad he has at his disposal for Thursday’s game isn’t short of Euro experience either, as nine of the 18 picked were involved in the U17 squad which went and lifted the European U17 Championship title in May, whilst the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Louis Laing, benik Afobe and Sam Johnstone also played in the 2009 U17 Euro Finals too.
“It only seems like yesterday when last year’s year group were coming back from the European Championship Finals in France,” admitted Blake, ahead of the game at Crewe’s Gresty Road home.
“I will take the opportunity to assess a few new faces against Slovakia and see how they perform at this level.
“There is some real competition for places in the squad this season, players from last season’s very successful U17s group will be pressing hard for places and equally there are late developers within the 1992 group who have shown some real promise and need to be looked at.”
This is only the first game of the new season, so there will always be opportunities for more players to come into the frame as the year progresses and Blake insists the opportunity for international football is always there for any young player who shows the right sort of form and ability at club level in the coming months.
“The door is always open for players who qualify to play for England, no matter which club they play for,” he added.
“If they are good enough then we are interested. We never stop looking at players.”