John Peacock preparing for Elite Round opener on Saturday.
England v Sweden
UEFA European U17 Championship
Elite Qualifying Round
Group 7 - England, Sweden, Malta and Slovakia
3pm, Saturday 27 March
Sixfields Stadium, Northampton Town FC
Tickets are priced £3 for adults and £1 for concessions
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England U17s will be hoping to make the perfect start to their Elite Round Qualifiers on Saturday, when they take on Sweden in their opening game at the Sixfields Stadium.
John Peacock’s team have their eyes on reaching May’s European Championship Finals in Liechtenstein, but they know that they must top the table above Sweden, Malta and Slovakia if they are to progress.
With the Swedes first up in opposition, Head Coach Peacock feels they will probably offer the sternest competition to qualify, making the opener even more important.
“The first game of any tournament is so important,” he said.
“We need to get off to a good start and take some momentum into the Malta and Slovakia games as we’ve all got high hopes of reaching Liechtenstein later this year.
“The Scandinavian sides always take these tournaments seriously so it goes without saying that Sweden will be professional and well organised.”
The Young Lions have been in decent form so far this season, coming through the first qualifying round last year with a 100 per cent record before heading to Portugal to win the Algarve Tournament in February.
Coupled with the players’ continued development at club and international level, Peacock is setting improving standards for his squad.
“We have had decent preparation for these Elite Round matches, hosting an International Friendly Tournament in August, again in the Midlands region, against Italy, Turkey and eventual winners, Portugal,” he explained.
“We then qualified from the First Qualifying Round, winning all three games against Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Serbia.
“Our final piece of preparation came in February, where we ran out winners of the Algarve Tournament, against three strong teams in the hosts, Portugal, France and Ukraine.
“Their development and progress has been continually monitored not only while on duty with England, but also back at their respective clubs.”
It will be a busy week for Peacock and his team though, as they go on to play Malta on Monday evening and then Slovakia next Thursday, but coping with the demands of competition football is another important part of any young player’s development.
“Another feature of tournament football is playing three matches within a space of between four to six days, allowing for very little preparation time,” said Peacock, whose team also reached last season’s U17 Finals in Germany.
“The need to transfer the skills learnt on previous trips, plus quickly referring back to a rest and recovery strategy between matches, is a fundamental requirement.
“There are noticeable differences between club and international football and it is important that the players adapt very quickly to the differences in style, system and tactical arrangements.”