By Nicholas Veevers
Tuesday, 04 September, 2012
Noel Blake pleased to see his U19 squad members playing first team football.
Noel Blake takes his squad to Hamburg this week as they face a tough match against Germany to open their new campaign.
And the U19s Head Coach admits he is delighted to see that a number of his squad are already making an impression at first team level with their clubs.
The likes of Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse, Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling and Birmingham City trickster Nathan Redmond amongst a number of others in the group have all been involved in the early stages of the season with their clubs and Blake now wants to see them make a further step-up on the international stage.
“We have a situation where about seven or eight of the boys are in and around their club’s first teams, whether that’s on the bench or starting games, as is the case with Raheem and James,” explained Blake, who took last season’s U19s to the European Championship semi-final and qualification for the 2013 U20 World Cup.
“That augurs well for us and if our players are involved and doing well at the top level, that’s great and that’s exactly what we want for our young English players.
“That’s what we say to them, the challenge is to try and keep getting better for your clubs and internationally, because there’s always somebody who is prepared to take your shirt.
“These lads did well last year as U17s and U18s in previous seasons, but this is a new campaign and you have to move on again and that’s the challenge this year.”
The Young Lions also had the benefit of training at St.George’s Park, prior to flying out to Germany on Tuesday morning and after a short taste of working there on Monday, Blake can’t wait to give his squad a proper run-out at the new facilities in Burton later this year.
“We’ve used the pitches at SGP this week and they’ve been superb,” he added. “It’s a terrific facility for all of our national teams.
“We will have a proper look around with the lads when we are based here properly later this year.”