In 2009, John Peacock's side will look to qualify for the European U17 Championship in Germany.
John Peacock’s U17 side will be hoping to continue their rich vein of form in 2009 as they prepare to qualify for the European U17 Championship in Germany.
The Young Lions will face hosts Hungary, Portugal and Serbia in the Elite Round of Qualifying with only the team who top the group progressing to next summer’s Finals.
A well earned 1-1 draw against current holders, Spain, ensured England’s participation in the Elite Round as they finished second in the qualifying group behind their Iberian counterparts. This followed a frustrating draw against Armenia in the opening game and then a comfortable 7-0 dismissal of Estonia.
England will renew acquaintances with Portugal in the Elite Round after entertaining them in an August friendly at Nene Park. Portugal were 2-1 winners on that occasion, but Peacock’s charges were certainly unfortunate not to have got a draw or even a win after creating chances and enjoying plenty of possession. They will look to go one better next time.
A number of U17 internationals have recently enjoyed valuable first-team experience with their club sides, perhaps most notably Everton’s Jose Baxter and Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, who became the Gunners’ youngest ever European player when he came off the bench against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League in November.
Peacock knows that first-team experience is vital in the development of his players, but he is also aware that England’s Elite opponents will provide them with a stern examination.
"It’s a tough draw for us," Peacock said. "It’s very similar to this year when we played France, Israel and Russia.
"To be honest though, you have to expect that when you get to the Elite Round so we’ll prepare for it and look forward to the games."
In preparation for the Elite Round, England will travel to Portugal in February for the Algarve Tournament.