The U16s' Montaigu preparations begin tonight in Belgium.
Belgium v England
An U16 International Match
6pm (GMT), Tuesday 9 February 2010
RFC Sèrèsien - Stade du Pairay, Seraing, Belgium
This evening, the England U16 team will experience their first taste of international football outside of the British Isles when they tackle Belgium in Seraing.
In November, the Young Lions defeated Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to retain the Victory Shield for the ninth successive season and Head Coach, Kenny Swain, believes this maiden overseas test will provide ideal preparation ahead of next month’s Montaigu Tournament, where England will initially face Ukraine, Japan and Gabon.
“The players have settled in and knuckled down very well,” said Swain. “Everyone has done what I have asked of them and they are all focused on the job in hand.
“Unfortunately we could only have one cool-down session on Sunday, one football session yesterday and we just looked at the set plays this morning, so they have had very little time to prepare. But that’s exactly what they’ll have to get used to when they go to Montaigu, so it’s good for them to experience that beforehand. We are grateful for the opportunity to play in Belgium.”
This trip has allowed Swain to call upon Max Clayton, Lewis Fielding and Ellis Plummer for the first time but the bulk of the squad have been together since the opening Victory Shield game against Wales in October and Swain is confident of seeing progress in his charges’ play.
“I want them to build on the international experience they have had so far,” he admitted. “They are on an upward trajectory in terms of performance; they got better with each game in the Victory Shield and they are beginning to look a little bit more composed on the ball. Their understanding has increased, in training and in the games we have had so far and we’re looking for that to continue.”
Tyias Browning, who was another new U16 call-up, was replaced by West Brom’s Elikem Amenku on Saturday evening while Callum McFadzean will miss tonight’s match through injury.
The players were invited to Standard Liege’s stadium to have a look around and all were impressed by what they saw. For many, it will have been the first foreign stadium they have been to and tonight they will all be hoping to experience playing in a foreign stadium for the first time too.