The Young Lions begin their first qualification stage for the European Championship on Wednesday.
England v Armenia
UEFA European U17 Championship
7.30pm, Wednesday 22 October 2008
Campo los Cuartos, Tenerife, Spain
Click here for competition details
England U17s begin their qualification campaign for next summer’s European Championship on Wednesday evening, when they face Armenia in Tenerife.
It is the first of three games in less than a week for the Young Lions as they look to progress through the First Qualifying Round and take a step nearer toward the finals which are to be held in Germany.
After facing Armenia, England then go on to play Estonia and hosts Spain with the top two teams out of the group securing a spot in the Elite Qualifying Round which will take place early next year.
The U17s have already been in action this season in the Nordic Tournament in July and then winning two out of their three games in The FA International U17 Tournament in August when Italy and Israel were dispatched before England were extremely unfortunate to lose against Portugal.
Now that the competitive action is about to get underway though, Head Coach John Peacock admits that he has been pleased with how his squad's preparations have gone to date.
“Things have gone very well so far and we’ve managed to get a few days of contact time with the players which has been helpful because they have all been released by their clubs,” Peacock told TheFA.com, from the team’s base in Santa Ursula.
“With all being well, we’ve got the settled squad that we want and we can hopefully take that into the games.
“We got together on Friday and had a day and a half in England to prepare before we travelled out here on Sunday and began our preparations for the games here.”
The focus is now put upon Wednesday’s opener in Campo los Cuartos, where Peacock is keen to see his team get off to the best possible start against Armenia to set themselves up for a successful week, but knows that they won’t be able to take anything for granted.
“They’re (Armenia) very much an unknown quantity really,” he explained.
“I went through my files recently and I remember we last played them back in 2004 in the European Qualifiers with the 1987 year group.
“That is the last time we’ve played them at U17 level so they’re definitely an unknown quantity but won’t be taking them lightly by any means.
“It will be very tough game and it’s always important to win your first game, so it’s crucial.”
Peacock is also hoping that the confidence gained from the performances in August has been carried over by the players to what will, for many, be their first experience of a UEFA international competition.
“We had quite a good tournament in August and looking back, we should have won all three games because we had enough of the possession and quality to have beaten Portugal and we’re hoping to take that into these games,” he said.
“The lads showed a lot of good character after that defeat to Portugal though and I think we’ll need that character, togetherness and mental strength throughout this week.”
*Withdrawn from the squad and replaced by Liam Head of Plymouth Argyle.
||West Bromwich Albion|