U17 Head Coach John Peacock preparing his squad for Portugal tournament.
The Algarve Tournament
13-16 February 2010
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England U17s will be hoping that this year’s Algarve Tournament can set them on course for success in the forthcoming European Championship qualifiers.
The Young Lions will face France, Ukraine and hosts Portugal over the next few days, before turning their attention to March’s Elite Round games back here and the Algarve Tournament has proved to be a useful exercise in the last few years.
“It’s always a good preparation for the Elite Round and we always manage to get an invite every year,” said Head Coach John Peacock, from the squad’s base
“And obviously the Portuguese come to our Nationwide U17 Tournament in August so that works out well.
“It gives me a good chance to look at all of the players, as it’s the last opportunity to really look at the players before the Elite Round comes.”
After successfully negotiating the first Euro qualifying round earlier in the season, Peacock believes he knows what sort of a pool of players he can select from and the party he has taken to Portugal is one of experience.
“I think we’re looking at a long squad of about 25 or 26 players which we’ll use this year, and the only new cap amongst this group is Harry Kane,” he explained.
“There are only a few who I haven’t seen this year although they were involved in the U16s last year.
“This gives me a good insight into the depth of the squad though and what I’ve said to them is that every player will get a start, so they will all get a fair representation over the three games and that’s good for them.”
The beauty of the Algarve Tournament is that it always provides Peacock’s team with a decent standard of opposition and with three games over a four day spell, it gets the squad ready for the rigours of international tournaments.
“The tournament probably offers the strongest sort of opposition we can get over three games in a few days,” explained Peacock, whose side reached the European U17 Championship Finals last season.
“We always have a very close game with the French at all levels really and it’s similar with Portugal, as we seem to know each other’s game quite well.
“Ukraine are a bit of an up-and-coming nation, and we saw how well they did last year against England in the U19s Final. So that will be another good test for us.
“It’s about learning to manage tournament football though.”
Peacock can also gauge the squad’s reaction to being away from home over a prolonged period and working together in close quarters, which is another key element of the players’ development.
“It’s the first time we’ll have been together since October and it’s different to what they’re used to on a day by day basis,” he added.
“So this sort of experience to them is crucial, and it’s a really good test for them this week.
“The weather hasn’t been great, it’s been blowing a gale and very wet but we’re hoping to get some training done and prepare for Saturday’s game with France.
“They have trained very well in the short time we’ve been together so far. It’s a good squad, they all get on very well and there’s a good spirit.”
England’s first match of the tournament is against France on Saturday, quickly followed by Ukraine on Sunday and then Portugal on Tuesday morning.