Tuesday, 31 August, 2010
Head Coach feels first game of the new season is at fitting location.
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England U19s get their season underway on Thursday night, when they entertain Slovakia at Crewe Alexandra and Head Coach Noel Blake believes it’s quite fitting that Gresty Road will be the venue for one of the country’s key development age groups.
Under the stewardship of Dario Gradi over the last couple of decades, the Cheshire-based club have produced numerous players who have gone on to bigger and better things after being technically developed as youngsters.
Players such as David Platt, Geoff Thomas, Danny Murphy, Seth Johnson, Rob Jones and Robbie Savage to name but a few have all started out at Crewe and eventually gone on to feature at international level and Blake is looking forward to leading his new Young Lions squad out at the Alexandra Stadium later this week.
“It’s fitting in many ways that this game takes place here, as this football club and its manager are a great example to all when it comes to player development,” said Blake ahead of the match.
“Over the past two decades, they have produced a constant flow of talented players, some of whom have gone on to achieve great things in the game.”
After taking last season’s U19s to the Semi-Final of the European Championships in July, Blake has now got a new group of players to work with for the coming campaign and will be looking to impress upon them the ideal way to negotiate international football at this level.
“We will be encouraging the squad to play a patient game when required, try and build from the back, play through midfield whilst also encouraging them to be creative and play in tight areas both in attack and defence,” he explained.
“We will be looking for good movement and rotation, technical skills, tactical awareness and game understanding.
“I want to see them expressing themselves as individuals, but equally demonstrating a good team ethos as well.”
Blake has already had to make a few changes to the initial squad he selected, with the likes of Lee Nicholls, Karlton Weston, Emmanuel Frimpong and Jed Steer all withdrawing injured to be replaced by Jack Butland, Angus MacDonald, Louis Laing and Sam Johnstone respectively. See the full squad by clicking here.