Brent Hills' side prepare to face USA, Sweden and Norway.
Women’s U23 International Tournament
7-12 July 2010
University of Warwick
England, Sweden, USA, Norway
Click here for fixtures
Click the link on the right to watch the full interview and highlights of the game against the U20s
England Women's Under-23s take on three of the world's strongest nations this week in a mini-tournament at Warwick University and Coach Brent Hills says it's the perfect stepping-stone to the demands of the England senior set-up.
Hills' side faced Mo Marley's U20s World Cup hopefuls on Monday afternoon in a training match to prepare both for their upcoming tournaments. While the younger team will be taking on the World in Germany, Hills says the test provided by this week's visitors to the Midlands will help players who are looking to become regulars in Hope Powell's England team.
"This year we're not playing one side who is out of the top six in the world," Hills told TheFA.com. "We play Germany twice, USA three times, Sweden and Norway at different times throughout the year, so it's a really rigorous programme.
"They are playing against players that, if they are going to make the seniors, they'll be playing against their counterparts for those countries who are normally at the end of big tournaments. That's where we always want to be."
He continued: "This is a chance for the Under-23s to refine their tournament experience. They have three games in six days, which is a very tough schedule. But you get tough schedules in tournaments so here's a chance to practice what we're preaching; rest and recovery strategies, fitness preparation, and do you have the game undersanding to establish yourself in the U23s and go on to the seniors."
And Hills, who has been part of Powell's national team coaching staff since 2002, has seen the overall level of player standards rise greatly in recent years and says that the Under-23s can help nurture talent who may not quite be ready for senior international football.
"The Under-23s were formed in 2004 to plug the gap between the U19s and the Senior Team. We realised it was a huge jump for people and they were finding it very difficult and needed more support," he added.
"When I started, if you were an extremely talented 18-year-old you may have been able to get into the senior team. I'll give you an example, Fara Williams. You would have to be the next Kelly Smith now to be able to do that.
"The seniors have all got between 50 and 90 caps, they are much more experienced and have been to world tournaments, so it's not so easy as a young player to break in. Once you get past the U19s and U20s, you still need that development programme and that's what the Under-23s provide."Log on to TheFA.com throughout the week for the latest from the Under-23s mini-tournament. If you're in the Warwick area, why not drop into the University to check out the matches, details can be found by clicking here..