Coach Kenny Swain talks about the player development process ahead of the game with Wales on Friday.
England v Wales
Sky Sports Victory Shield
7.45pm, Friday 2 November 2007
New Bucks Head Stadium, AFC Telford United
Ticket Hotline 01952 640064
Kenny Swain’s England U16 team are back in action on Friday evening, when they host Wales in the Victory Shield and look to pick up their first win of the season.
The new batch of U16 players for this season were held to a 2-2 draw by Northern Ireland last month at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road in what was their first outing together of the campaign.
Now they return to the New Bucks Head Stadium in Telford, the scene of a 4-0 victory against Wales two years ago and where they will now be aiming to get their first win together in front of what will be a sizeable crowd.
Whilst results at this level aren’t the most important thing, with player development being the optimum objective, Swain still has fond memories of the last U16 game in Shropshire when goals from Ashley Chambers, Danny Rose and a brace from Jonathan Franks sealed an impressive performance from the Young Lions.
“We faced Wales at Telford in a great atmosphere two years ago and came away with a good performance and victory on that occasion, so hopefully we can repeat something like this,” explained Swain ahead of the game.
“It’s not about the results though and the process is an ongoing exercise for us.
“We are looking to give the opportunity to boys who are performing now or showing the potential to represent their country.”
As a result of this process, a large proportion of the squad on duty for Friday weren’t involved against Northern Ireland as Swain and his staff continue to monitor the country’s young players.
“We have a number of different players to the squad which was on duty at Blackpool,” he explained.
“This isn’t a reflection on any of the players who were selected, as we have more to view.
“For example, this was seen at Telford two years ago, when Danny Welbeck came into the squad to play for the last seven minutes in the game with Wales.
“It was only a short appearance, but he showed what he could do and did enough in that time to prove to me that he had the potential to be a good player, so we kept tabs on him over the season even though we didn’t pick him again until the following year when he had grown physically as well as ability-wise.”
Swain has previously described football at youth level as being like a ‘rollercoaster ride’ and that was certainly the case last time out as England appeared to have won the game with a late goal, only for Northern Ireland to equalise seconds later in stoppage time.
Whilst the players will learn from those experiences and setbacks, Swain knows that it can only be expected with the players still in the embryonic stages of their football careers.
“Managing the game, there are periods of possession, ascendancy and periods of pressure and anxiety and they are all major issues in football, particularly at youth level,” he added.
“We will face similar challenges against Wales on Friday.”
Please note, there will be no admission on the night of the game at the New Bucks Head Stadium, so please contact AFC Telford United for ticket details.